Olight H1 Nova – Review

Olight contacted me to see if I would like to review the new Olight H1 Nova Headlamp. I of course said yes because who can have enough flashlights? Headlamps are one of those things that are super useful when you need extra light but need both hands free (Home improvement, rock climbing, automotive repair, etc) but sit in a drawer most of the time. Olight has solved this problem with the H1 Nova by making the light removable from the headstrap. This is a tiny light, with some fantastic performance for it’s weight and size without sacrificing build quality.

For a more detailed review please see my video review below.

 

Also here is a gallery of images of the light and packaging. http://imgur.com/a/TIyjN

Lumintop Prince (Brass) – Review

Lumintop asked me if I wanted to review a series of flashlights for them so I said yes. Over the coming weeks I will be posting my written and video reviews with a few photos.

The construction and fit and finish of this light is impressive. The front emitter and tail are both made of brass. The light comes vacuum packaged to keep the brass in a pristine shiny state. As soon as you open it, the brass will start to oxidize and distress. I found this to be a fast process, within a few days your light will start to take on a lot of character. You can always seal the metal first thing to preserve the shiny look or use a metal polish to “restore it”

The center tube is internally made of copper for heat dissipation, with the outside having a carbon fiber weave with what looks like a few brass wires in it to set the look off from normal carbon fiber. This middle section is the best place to hold on to the light when it starts to get hot from continual use on high. The end cap is brass as well and holds the tail click button. I will talk more about that below. The light is IPX-8 rated for about 6 feet. With a battery installed this isn’t a lightweight light, it’s a very solid somewhat heavy but it’s a powerful tool too. Mine with the included battery weighed in at 5.7 oz.

Lumintop Brass Prince

Brass Prince 2

The light quality is good. This light uses a Cree XM-L2 U2 LED Chip and I would call it a neutral color. The light on high mode produces 1000 lumens and will run for a quoted 2.5 hours. I think this is pretty accurate as the brightness compares to my other 1000 lumen lights. On medium it produces 170 lumens at 11 hours, and on low 25 lumens for 65 hours. The light has a glass lens that has double antireflective coating on it, with an o’ring to seal it to the body. The reflector is mirror like and smooth. The LED itself has a lens over it too. I would call this light between a thrower and a flood. It has a narrow angle reflector but the beam spreads pretty easily.

The head (brass) really does get very hot on high. I would guess north of 130F after about 10 minutes of high use. The carbon fiber parts and the rear stay cool enough to touch. On the lower light outputs, the heat output are not a problem. It might be a good idea for Lumintop to put in a thermal controls to dim the light if it gets over a level where the outside could burn you.

This light is turned on with a large button in the tail cap. The button is flat and made of metal a milled aluminum it looks like. It has the lumintop logo on it and it spins freely. The switch feels pretty good but has a little side to side play. The switch can either be On or Off and used in ½ presses to change modes. I do like that it’s flush as this light will tail stand. The light has only 3 modes as I covered above, a high, medium, and low mode. No special flashing etc. There is also no memory modes.

This light has a slim long “Deep carry” style clip. It really is tight to the body of the light and makes the light very secure in your pocket or its included pouch. On my brass model light it’s made of a polished stainless steel. It uses torx screws to attach to only one point of the body of the light. It is removable.

The Lumintop Prince comes with a nice full grain leather case. The light fits tightly in it with the pocket clip to one side. It also has a belt clip. It’s a nice upgrade over a typical nylon “tactical style” holder. The leather makes sense for a classy light. The case has a spot on one side for a spare 18650 battery as well which is nice.

Brass Prince leather case

The light came with a Lumintop 18650 lithium ion battery that’s 3600mah but did not include a charger. This battery says it’s one of the popular NCR18650B models made by Panasonic. I have no way of verifying that it is actually a Panasonic battery. When I got it, it came at about 3.7v. I charged it in my Nitecore D2i charger at 500ma and it was full 5 hours later before it read 4.2v (Full). I have a charger that prioritizes safety over speed and I am ok with that. Never leave your lithium ion batteries unattended when charging. Safety first. The battery life has been great with this cell, no trouble at all with it so I would say it’s probably a real Panasonic cell because of it’s high quality.

18650

The materials of this light set it apart and make it a luxury light. It’s non tactical and probably fits most people in most situations better than a tactical light. This would make a great gift for someone if combined with a nice, safe, lithium battery charger (Assuming they didn’t have one). I like the light and have been using it a lot. For it’s size it’s performance is great, the heat is a bit of a concern if used on high for a long time but that’s to be expected for such a high lumen light. Overall I recommend it.

If you are interested in purchasing this light, please click my Amazon link. http://amzn.to/1V9X50I

Lumintop has offered me a 20% off discount code for my fans by using the code PZKZTJFB 

Make sure the seller is “LUMINTOP DIRECT” to make sure the code works to get your 20% discount on all Lumintop products. The code is valid through 12/31/2016

To see the entire store where the discount is valid https://goo.gl/UkmNlN

Driving the Tesla Model S

Model S side

The Tesla Model S is kind of the halo “electric” car at the moment, and it really breaks the mold of a stereotypical electric car.  It is fast, sexy, and super high tech, yet drives almost normally. Being a car enthusiast, I had previously driven the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt locally; but with so few Tesla showrooms and service centers in the country, it’s hard to have the opportunity to drive a Tesla, especially in Nebraska.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to test drive a Tesla Model S on May 3, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska. I had spotted a post on the Tesla Facebook page saying they were taking reservations for a test drive, so I signed up. They called me the next day and confirmed.

They had 4 cars on display in the corner of a parking lot.  All were the P85 variant (the big battery model), and some had quite a few options, so sticker prices ranged from about $80k-$107k. Quite a few people were hanging around the car that was charging while a Tesla employee answered questions.  Having read several reviews of the car and watching several videos of it, I had quite a bit of knowledge to draw from for my test drive.

My time slot came up and I scanned my drivers license, typed in a little info on an ipad and went for a test drive.  The car is so quiet that in a somewhat crowded environment, people kept walking behind the car when we were trying to back out of the parking spot. Their mouths kind of dropped open when they saw this car come at them silently.

The Driving

Acceleration – Instant torque is addicting. Really addicting.  The acceleration in the Model S is so smooth and linear. It definitely pushes you back into the seat in a very satisfying way. Its speed and power are deceiving because of how quiet it is. In a gasoline powered car the engine gives you an indication of the speed you’re going; the S doesn’t have that, so it was very easy to go faster than the law says you should. It would be interesting to see if Model S owners get more speeding tickets because of it. I can verify that traction control is pretty effective too. When you give the S a lot of acceleration off the line, the traction control will come in and make sure you keep things on the road and straight; it does give the sensation of wiggling around a little though.  It was fun.  Because the Model S has no transmission or torque converter like in an automatic transmission, the car doesn’t creep along at low speeds. Tesla has added this creep mode as a software mode if you miss it. It takes a little getting use to in non creep mode.

Brakes – The Model S brake feel was nice and linear under normal street driving. Tesla has taken an interesting approach, giving you the option of a maximum regeneration mode or a low regeneration mode.  It’s a simple setting on the 17” touchscreen center console.  In the low generation mode, the car will coast much like a normal car with an automatic transmission with low drag.  The downside of this is that it will generate much less energy to put back into the batteries and extend range.  In maximum generation mode when off the accelerator it feels much more like you have downshifted on a car with a manual transmission. The feeling of drag is increased quite a bit. It’s essentially using electric motors as an engine brake by using the electric motor to generate electricity..  It takes a little getting used to since you don’t have to touch the brakes nearly as much in city driving. For instance, when coming down a hill, instead of coasting down the hill you actually may have to just use the lightest input on the accelerator to maintain speed.  The benefits of this is it’s extend range optimally. Tesla says that this also greatly decreases brake rotor and pad wear because you’re not using them as much to slow the relatively heavy car.

 

Steering/Suspension – The Model S is the safest car on the road, and part of that has to do with how stiff the chassis is. That stiffness really adds to the sportiness of the car.  The suspension is stiff, but well damped so it’s not harsh, but also not “Lexus” smooth.  I would call it european inspired suspension. The car corners pretty flat, and in normal street driving hides its weight pretty well, I thought.  That stiffness also made the car feel really solid and well built. Our test car (829 miles on the odometer) had no squeaks or shudders. It would be interesting to compare a model with the sport suspension option. The steering was a nice weight and some road feel feedback.

 

The Interior

The 17” touch screen that serves as the cars center console and main control unit for all configurable things in the car really is the top interior feature.  The large screen and first HD backup camera that can optionally be used when driving were great.  The layout and navigation were really logical and intuitive of the controls and options. The UI was fast, and the cas a web browser build in to search for anything or read a website. Navigation was by Google Maps so it was great and always updated. The only driving control I was hunting around for was to put it in park (I will blame wanting to continue the test drive, I think it probably had enough range left to make it back home 🙂 )

2013-tesla-model-s-interior-photo-498135-s-1280x782

For what the car cost, the seats should have been better. After visiting the BMW Welt in Germany my benchmark is admittedly a bit high when it comes to seats though. The Model S I drove had the standard seats, and while stylish, they lacked some adjustability and didn’t have enough side bolstering to match the car’s performance.  With approximately a 300 mile range, you’re not as likely to be in one without a break as long as you would in a diesel or gas European luxury sedan in the same price range. The flat floor (no transmission tunnel) was really nice, and made the middle rear seat much more useable.  Someone who is tall might have problems sitting in the back seat without hitting their head on the roof.  The interior design was minimal but nice.  The design of the door handles are by far my favorite interior design feature.  I didn’t care for the dark gray walnut wood trim on the dash, and would have probably prefered a carbon fiber or dark, warmer wood color.

 

Model S door

 

The key of the car is pretty cool, as you would expect. It’s a fob and there is no traditional key.  It’s actually a Hot Wheels sized model of the Model S in black that is a bit more streamlined. Touching the model (key) on the trunk for a second or two will pop the trunk. Walk up to the car with the key in your pocket and the door handles automatically come out and it unlocks. The car is always on and ready to drive; sitting in the driver’s seat and putting your foot on the brake to put it into drive is all you need to do, no push button start or turning of a key. There is also no shutting it off, you touch the button for park and get out, the car locks and shuts off itself.

Model S Key

 

Conclusion

Coming into the test drive the car was already sitting on a pedestal. My test drive was short but for the most part it met and exceeded expectations.  For me the standouts were the acceleration, large center console screen, general technology, and its sexy lines. It’s an expensive car, and for most people it probably would not be your only car unless you had access to something with more range for long trips. That will change as electric charging, especially the Tesla Super Charging stations, becomes more common. For me it would be a great daily driver: fast, sexy, super safe, and minimal day to day costs.  The main barrier right now for most is the cost. It’s still quite an expensive car. Tesla is rumored to be coming out with a less expensive smaller 3 series competitor that will be more affordable for the masses.  By that time they should have a more robust charging network too. That will be more of a revolution for the masses.  Until then, the Model S is a great example of how good an electric car can be made, especially in the USA. It makes a few sacrifices and has some great benefits.

2014-05-03 12.11.06

The Frunk (Front Trunk)
The Frunk (Front Trunk)

Tesla1

Bassnectar

On Friday, October 27, 2013 I was able to go see @Bassnectar in concert at Pershing in Lincoln.  Having enjoyed Bassnectar for awhile and hearing about his great live shows, it was exciting to see it come to my home town.  The show had some really unique things, and in total it was great. The sound was unbelievable.

Security

The security to the show was nearly as extensive as at an airport.  They required everyone to take everything out of pockets, have a pat down (not as invasive as an airport), and lift up your shirt to look at the waistband.  Despite this, they allowed sealed water bottles in (they took the caps at the door) and bags after looking in them as well.  My observation while waiting in line was this caused a lot of people to consume anything they were hoping to get into the show before going in.  This did cut down a lot on substance use inside the concert, but of course the concert still smelled like an EDM concert.

 

Koan Sound

Usually opening acts don’t get much attention, Koan Sounds was the opposite of that.  They got the crowd going and were a surprise for me.  Being from the UK, their music was a bit different and more like a club.  I am definitely going to check them out.

 

Bassnectar/The Sound

Bassnectar’s set was over 2 hours of constant music and dancing.  He had 1 giant screen behind him supported with 4 smaller pillar boards on the sides.  The video was very colorful and synced to songs. Some were random fractal designs, others were moving video or stylized bits from music videos.

 

The music was a great selection of new and old Bassnectar.  One of the things I like about Bassnectar’s music is it incorporates pieces from lots of styles of music, and this showed in what he played. It was similar to some of his recent mixtapes. It’s the Bassnectar we know and expect to hear.

The sound quality was unbelievably clear and dangerously loud.  It brought new meaning to “feel the music”.  I had read a little on the Meyer Sound system being used.  I thought some of it was hype, but the system lived up to its reputation.  Never before have I been to any concert that was as loud, but super clear, as this one was.  You could feel the music in your body way more than you typically would at a rock show. As a long time follower of Bassnectar on twitter, I knew that he recommended ear plugs; I was very glad I had my Etymotic Research ER20 in my pocket.  These are unique in that they evenly block volume in sound without distortion or changing pitch. They make it so you can talk to someone near you without yelling.  My guess is this was the loudest and most bass heavy concert that the old Pershing building had ever seen.

All photos below were taken with my Note 2.

 

Nexus 7 2013 and Chromecast Mini reviews

Nexus 7 2013

I have been a very happy original Nexus 7 owner since day one, but the tablet has gotten quite a bit slower as it ages.  It seems this is a problem with the I/O and android 4.0+. (4.3 is said to improve this, btw).  I decided to upgrade mainly because of the increased storage (upgrade from 16gb to 32gb) and better screen.  So far I am not disappointed at all.  Below are my quick thoughts. Great full length reviews are also online from The Verge, Anandtec, Engadget, Android Central, and others.

 

Pros

  • The screen is a game changer.  Colors are great, it’s bright, and the high resolution (Think “Retna”) looks fantastic.  It’s an improvement in everything.

  • Blazing fast. Everything is much faster. Even the processor itself is faster. I think the biggest difference is the faster storage.

  • The build quality seems to be a large improvement. Despite being plastic it really seems like a solid construction.  It also feels much thinner in the hand.

  • Standby battery life seems to be improved over 50% when on WiFi.  I no longer need to charge it nightly.
  • Notification LED is a nice touch.

 

The Questions

  • Why is the power adapter on the Nexus 7 2013 edition smaller at 1.35A vs the Nexus 7 2012 edition which was 2.0A?

 

Cons

  • Audio – The speakers are a bit of a disappointment.  While stereo is nice, I was really hoping for more volume. I like to listen to podcasts or stream radio stations while in the same room, and the volume is just not that loud.  The internal noise when headphones are plugged in is vastly improved as well.

  • Google needs to differentiate in the Play Store between the versions of Nexus 7.  Currently by default they are just listed as “Asus Nexus 7” and the last date they were used.  Google should at least change the icon of the new Nexus to reflect the one they are using on the box and in promos.  You can go in and rename devices, but users should not have to do this.

  • Touch on my tablet seems to be a bit off once in awhile.  I am going to have to investigate this further to see if its an app problem or maybe a hardware issue.

  • There seem to be some GPS issues with certain apps.  This looks to be more of a 4.3 problem than a hardware problem in the new tablet.  Over time apps should update and this will get fixed.

Chromecast

When this was announced it was a surprise for pretty much everyone.  At $35 this is pretty much a no-brainer.

I had been looking for a way to get music to my receiver in the living room but be able to control it from my tablet or phone. Ideally I wanted the music source to be from my Google Music account, since I have everything uploaded there.  Initially I thought this would be an app and I would plug in my tablet to act as the server, but control it from my phone.  Turns out the Chromecast has this feature and it works really well.  From my tablet I can power on the receiver (TV can remain off) and  start music playing, all from anywhere in the house.  It’s pretty slick. I have my Chromecast hooked up to my Yamaha receiver in the HDMI 2 position with AC power.

Chromecast

There are 2 methods of the Chromecast streaming content.

Mobile Device to Chromecast

Right now there are only a handful of apps that officially support this.  Youtube, Google Music, Google Movies, and Netflix.  It’s really easy to use; you start a video or song playing and then hit the Chromecast button, and within about a second it starts playing on your TV/Receiver.  What is actually happening here is the Chromecast is playing directly from the cloud, allowing you to use your device to do other things, like social media etc.  You can create queues, pause, next, etc from your mobile device.

 

Computer to Chromecast

Computer to Chromecast works a bit differently than Mobile to Chromecast.  Computer to Chromecast requires you to use the Chrome browser, and install the Chromecast plugin.  From there it allows you to share a tab to the Chromecast.  You can display the text of a web page or most video.  The computer is transcoding this information and then sending it to the Chromecast over wifi, so it does take some power on the computer side.  I tried this on my i7 920 desktop and things worked well.  I tried a few websites (Crackel, JaylenosGarage, Vimeo) and everything worked.  There is also a trick that you can open local media files in Chrome using CTRL + O and these cast too.  The MP4 files that were H.264 encoded played well.  I also tried some MKV files I had and the video in these played well, however the audio did not.  Hopefully this is something that is added in the future.

Pro’s

  • Low Price, Small Size.  At $35 this is a no-brainer, Since I ordered early I received 3 months of Netflix as well, which makes it even cheaper. It’s a small dongle that fits about anywhere.

  • Setup could not have been easier with the app on my tablet. My one tip is if you have a long complex wifi password, email it to yourself first, and make sure you copy to your clipboard before you start the setup on the phone/tablet.

  • To steal a famous quote, “It Just Works!” It just works, as Google said it would. It’s only likely to get better from here.

 

Cons

  • AC adapter. This is one of those styles of adapters that can cover up the plugin next to it. On the positive side, Google did include a nice piece of velcro to keep the extra cord nicely bundled.

  • Limited native app support right now, but this should get better since the API is open.

  • No support for Mobile Chrome to Chromecast. Hopefully this will be added soon. I have a feeling that it was due to most hardware not having the power needed to transcode video fast enough.

 

The future potential of the Chromecast is huge.  While it’s not a Roku or Apple TV replacement quite yet, it’s still very useful.  At the $35 price level, you can’t complain about much.  It makes getting Youtube and Google Music/Movie content to your TV/Receiver super easy.  Beyond that, being able to quickly move a chrome tab from your desktop to tv is easy too.

Wide Range Broadband Review

Please make sure to see my updates at the bottom of the page.

_________________________________________________________

I have talked with Lincolnites citywide who share similar frustrations with the ISP options in town.  The big guys tend to overpromise, underdeliver, have over utilization problems, and reliability issues.  For me, the last 6 months have been worse than average, with huge fluctuations in speed, especially during peak times.  I had techs out, replaced modems, talked with support and there just was not much that could be done.  On top of this, new fees and a fairly high bill have been enough for me to start looking at other options.

In Lincoln there are not a ton of options.  Lincoln has a fairly limited market.  We have one cable provider and one traditional POTS phone provider.  There are a few resellers but they mainly use the infrastructure of the first two, thanks FCC.  There have been other options, but they typically have not been able to offer the price/performance ratio I was looking for, especially delivering a faster upload speed.

The Solution

Wide Range Broadband (WRB) is a small, locally owned and operated ISP, wanting to give Lincolnites another option to get Internet, phone and TV service.  When I first ran across them in late 2012 they didn’t have service in my area, but this has recently changed as they expand to cover more of the city.  View a coverage map here. WRB is a point to point line of sight Wireless ISP (WISP).  They use a RF technology and mount an antenna on a high point of your home and then run CAT5 inside.  More on the install later.  They are using fiber for the backhaul between their current 5 towers in town.Their main provider is Level 3 who dumps to the internet in Dallas TX.  The transmissions from the antenna to the providers tower is encrypted using 128 bit AES, which is a great thing.

Rooftop AntennaThis is the rooftop antenna on my house.

The Install

The install at my house took about 1.5 hours on a weeknight.  It was refreshing to have an appointment time that was not a 4 hour window.  During the install, Aaron, the company owner,  installed an antenna on my rooftop.  They had a lots of options, and I chose to put it on the side of my chimney.  Another common install point was the PVC exhaust vents many roofs have.  This is a good choice if you can’t put holes into the structure. The install is similar to a satellite dish install, with the mount actually being from a satellite dish.  From there he ran a length of outdoor rated CAT5 wire down the eave of my house and inside, with the rest of the service wires.  The antenna and CAT5 blend in pretty well, I think.  You can see them if you’re looking for it, but if not it blends in pretty well. Inside there is a simple small POE injector that plugs into electricity and a patch cable to your router.

Performance

I will admit I was a little skeptical at first of a wireless point to point service.  I have two pretty heavy users (Gaming, Streaming, Online Backup and more) in the house, so low lag and performance is a must. Point to point systems of the past are associated with having problems when there is weather, and high ping times.  So far I have not found this to be the case.  I am on the top residential package (21×5) and am seeing download speeds between 18-20mb/s and uploads of between 5-7mb/s   Upload speeds to seem to vary some, but they don’t dip that low, and are still significantly faster than I was previously receiving with my old ISP. Higher speeds are being seen at non peak times. The speed test screenshots speak for themselves. There are no bandwidth caps with the service either.

Speedtest

Service is dependent on distance from the towers, and according to Google Maps I am about 2.5 miles from the tower.  My housemate reports his ping times when playing online games are about 1/2 or 1/3 less with the new service.  Ping times to Google during peak hours are less than 30ms.   Youtube and Netflix performance are a lot better; much less buffering and no throttling. So far we have not had any thunderstorms roll through to see how that affects the service.  WRB told me that rain or snow would not affect the service.  So far in the one storm we have had I didn’t notice any performance differences.

After having the service about a week, I can easily say it’s the best ISP experience I have had in Lincoln and the best value.  The top package is quoted as a (21×5) for $60 a month.  With my old ISP I was paying $65 for (15×1) and that was not being delivered, so this is a much better value. Other packages are available as well with various levels of speed and price. I also like supporting a local company.

WRB also offers a referral program.  If this post has made you interested in signing up please let them know LiquidRetro referred you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or find me on Twitter at @Liquidretro and I will reply back.

UPDATE1: I just wanted to write a quick update on the performance in the crazy weather Lincoln has had in the past 2 days.  On Tuesday some very significant thunderstorms rolled through town.  These brought with them some intense hail, that did cause a problem with my service.  After talking with the ISP they acknowledged a bit of downtime due to the weather. The hail had struck some of their antennas.  This was unexpected and they were looking deeper into the cause of the problem.  Good news is the outage only lasted about 20 minutes.  During the rest of the rain in the later thunderstorm there were no problems.  Today Lincoln has received a at times heavy wintry mix of precipitation   I have not had any problems with reliability or speed.  Speeds are still nice and fast.

UPDATE2: As of October 2017 I no longer was a Widerrange customer. I had the opportunity to get Allo Fiber to the home which is the best thing to happen to the Lincoln ISP market. It’s a fantastic service with great customer support.

Since my Update 1 My service with Widerrange declined in speed, because unstable and customer support suffered greatly. Running a WISP takes knowledge of the wireless spectrum above general networking and it woudl appear the new owner is lacking in this. My service required resetting due to vulnerable firmware that was known to the ISP but instead of being proactive they were reactive when users called in about a problem.

At the current time I do not recommend Widerange if you have other options.  The product being delivered did not meet expectations nor did the customer service. Lincoln now has better options, and I would recommend using one of them if possible.

Greta’s Gourmet, Lincoln NE Review

It looks like I am turning into a food blogger. I enjoy trying lots of new places in town, so it’s fitting. I will need to remember the P&S camera since my cell phone photos are only so so.

Friday I packed my lunch and intended on eating it at work, but that all changed once I smelled coworkers warming up things in the microwave.  Browsing my stream on Google+ I noticed Brian’s postabout a great Friday burger deal from Greta’s Gourmet here in Lincoln.  Since this was fairly close to work I decided to give it a shot.I walked in and ordered the Greta Burger, which was the house ground beef patty with bleu cheese crumbles mixed in with the meat, seasoned with KC Steak seasoning.  This was served on a toasted gourmet bun with tomato, onion, and mixed greens.  I am a bleu cheese fan and have had several other bleu cheese burgers around town, but this one tops them.  It was very flavorful; every bite had a great bleu cheese flavor to it.  It was a juicy patty that was cooked perfectly, with a hint of pink in the middle. It was seasoned nicely and the onion was a great addition.  One of the problems with other restaurants bleu cheese burgers is that they are always messy.  Sometimes they crumble from too much bleu cheese or the bleu cheese just falls off the top. Since this one was mixed in it had none of these problems.  I had Sweet Maui Onion kettle chips, which were similar to a more subtle sour cream and onion flavor.  They were a good fit for the Greta Burger.

The atmosphere of the shop is nice.  It is a butchers shop so the cafe takes second place, but there are tables up against the window and some nice butcher block tables in the center.  It reminds me of a kind of deli that you would see in a place like NYC. It has a good lunch spot vibe.

For a total of $6.40 after tax I got a good sized gourmet burger, kettle chips, and a large iced tea.  I thought this was a pretty good deal.  It was cheaper than “Value” meal choices at the chain fast food places and much better food.  Compared with other gourmet burger places in South Lincoln, for what you get it was a great deal.  I plan on going back to try the other things on the menu.  They have a lunch special every day that ranges between $5-6 and chef specials on the weekend that they post to their Facebook and Twitter pages.

 

Update 10/05/12:  Since this original post I have been back to Greta’s probably a dozen times.  The Greta Burger (Blue Cheese) is my favorite.  The balsamic burger is my second favorite.  It really is the best burger in town in my opinion and the opinion of many people I have brought with me.  The potato salad is a great side, and the baked beans are to die for.  They are more of a cowboy bean with several different types of beans, and small pieces of meat.   I also recommend getting their house Iced Tea.   It is a black tea, but just a great blend.  Nothing fruity just great simple Iced Tea.  The specials on many of the other days are very good as well.  You really can’t go wrong with anything at Greta’s.  

GUP Kitchen, Lincoln NE Review

GUP Cuban

WOW! is the one word way I would describe my experience for lunch on Sunday at Lincoln’s newest food truck. I found out about GUP Kitchen from friends and social media (both Twitter and Facebook). Their location hasn’t been convenient for me in the past, but on Sunday it did and I knew I had to give it a try.

GUP, stands for Ground Up and is a concept for both the food and way of making it. It comes from the idea that you should know where your food comes from; “literally from the ground up.” The reality is that everything you will eat is seasoned with hand-ground and custom-blended spices and sauces. Chef and Co-Owner, Erik Hustad studied Culinary Arts at The Art Institute of Seattle and came back to start GUP with cousin and co-owner, Gabriel Lovelace. http://eatgroundup.com/the-story/

GUP is a modern take on a food truck. It is actually a large trailer pulled behind a pickup truck. The white outside is decorated with their logo, website, twitter address, Facebook, QR code, etc. The menu is on a flat panel monitor too, pretty neat. From word of mouth I had heard that the Cuban Spiced Pork sandwich was fantastic so that is what I got along with the Mac n’ Cheese (More on that in a minute). Ordering was simple and quick.

From the first bite of my Cuban Sandwich I knew it was going to be good. The sauce makes this sandwich stand out from your average Cuban. There is a reason GUP calls it awesome sauce. It was a mayo based sauce with some unique spices. I could taste garlic, a little sugar, some citrus, and other flavors I could not really pick out distinctively, but that doesn’t matter, because it was amazing. The pork meat was very tender and juicy. It also had onions, lettuce, and small sweet peppers on it. I was a little surprised not to find pickles since this is pretty traditional on a Cuban. All of this goodness was served on a ciabatta roll from Le Quartier. I happened to eat this at my parents house and my dad wanted a bite. His response was that it was as good of Cuban Sandwich as he has ever had. I have to agree.

I had originally ordered Potato Salad with my sandwich but at the last minute decided to go with the Mac n’ Cheese because it had bacon in it. Typically Mac n’ Cheese is not something I order. It is never something I crave, but this was pretty good. This was a rich Mac n’ Cheese made with cheese, onion, and bacon added in. The bacon added something but not quite as much as I was expecting. With bacon the more the better right?

Service was fast and I enjoyed talking with the guys in the truck as they assembled my meal. They explained that it is tough to find locations where they can operate (Private Parking lots) because Lincoln’s laws do not allow them on public property or on in a parking place on,say, O street in Downtown Lincoln. Prices were very reasonable for the amount and quality of food I received. I paid $6.95 for a sandwich and it must have included a side as well because I was not charged for the Mac n’ Cheese. Portions were good, not huge but not small. I would put the value ranking higher than other “Fresh Local” food places in town with expensive overhead (Review of that place to come someday).

In conclusion I hope these guys continue to have success. Going in to the dark months of winter won’t be easy but their food is worth a trip into the cold outdoors to get. The food is outstanding, and I am happy to support young entrepreneurs in a family business venture. I will be going back and trying the Chicken Salad for sure and some of the other sides. I encourage everyone to find these guys (social media is the best way) and try them out.

GUP Kitchen Facebook Page
GUP Kitchen Twitter Page
GUP Kitchen Website