Alexander’s Patisserie

meter-good+Alexander’s Patisserie is a relatively new addition to the city of Mountain View. This high end bakery features all sorts of fancy things I can’t pronounce, and people are going nuts for it. Although plagued with a number of “inventory problems” early in its lifecycle, this bakery has made a splash and, now that it has stabilized, seems to be here to stay. It may not be for everybody though.

” It’s nice, but it doesn’t tug at my heartstrings “

The Alexander’s brand started with a not-so-humble steakhouse in Cupertino, and their reputation for absolute culinary excellence has grown from there. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Alexander’s was opening a bakery, but I remained skeptical. You see, I’m not a super duper fan of Alexander’s in general, mostly because overly-gourmet’d anything just kind of turns me off. I know, I know, blasphemy. Alexander’s makes plenty of tasty stuff that I love to eat, and I am always quite happy to enjoy a $180 steak at one of their outstanding restaurants, but they always seem to chef things up one step too far.

The problem with Alexander’s in general is that I don’t really trust them. I feel like if I don’t keep a close eye on what they are doing in the kitchen, they are going to get crazy and put horrible things in my food. No, thank you, I would not like gold-leafed pygmy kangaroo spleen on top of my steak. Please just give me the steak and stop screwing around.

I'm not sure if these are food or not... but they sure are pretty.

I’m not sure if these are food or not… but they sure are pretty.

Alexander’s Patisserie follows the same basic formula as the rest of the brand, and for the most part that is a good thing. This place is spotless. I’m talking surgical cleanliness here; I challenge even the most paranoid of germophobes to find fault in this place. I would have no problem eating off of the floor, and that’s the truth. The immaculate display cases are no exception to the hyper-neatness rule at Alexander’s, and the care put into arranging the displays is clear to see.

Speaking of the display cases, this bakery is truly a feast for the eyes. Never before have I seen such gorgeous baked goods in all my life; if nothing else, it’s worth coming here just to snap a few pictures. It’s impressive.

Colorful little disks of macaron excellence. And yeah, 'whisky' is really a flavor.

Colorful little disks of macaron excellence. And yeah, ‘whisky’ is really a flavor.

Over the course of several visits here, I’ve had an opportunity to sample a decent array of the bakery offerings, and for the most part they are all good. Not necessarily delicious or amazing or omg gimme that right now but just… good. As is their way, they seem to be in the business of taking extra steps in the kitchen to make things more fancy, but not necessarily to make things more delicious. Some people would argue that this is the very thing that makes Alexander’s special, but I’m just not that into it. It’s a still a great bakery though, no doubt. The quality is there, the presentation is there, the cleanliness is there, but one thing is missing: appeal.

You see, the trouble with Alexander’s Patisserie is that it’s so high end it lacks charm. Polish and perfection have come at the price of personality. Nothing feels like it was ever fresh-out-of-the-oven; it all seems like it was assembled in a cleanroom by robots. There is no bakery smell, no wafts of warm air from a nearby oven, no hustle and bustle of busy bakers half covered in flour. Everything is neat and cool and highly processed. It’s nice, but it doesn’t tug at my heartstrings.

The bread offerings are actually a bit disappointing. I hear the croissants are decent though.

The bread offerings are actually a bit disappointing. I hear the croissants are decent though.

So far I haven’t done much besides bash on this innocent bakery, but there’s a good reason for that. I wanted to get all the unpleasantness out of the way before I focus on the highlight of this review. Truth be told, I really enjoy visiting Alexander’s Patisserie. More specifically, I absolutely love two things they make: lattes and kouign amanns. Oh yes, the lattes at this place are absolutely superb – the baristas truly know what they are doing. They’d better for the prices they charge, but I don’t mind the cost. In my book there is no such thing as too high of a price for a truly excellent coffee beverage, and Alexander’s does not disappoint. Major yum factor going on here.

I'm a sucker for foam art. It automatically makes any latte 18.4% more delicious.

I’m a sucker for foam art. It automatically makes any latte 18.4% more delicious.

What else was it that I mentioned? A keegoine-o-what? It’s called a kouign amann, and it is heaven on a tiny little pastry plate. I have no idea how to pronounce it of course, but that should not surprise you. If you’ve never heard of a kouign amann before (I hadn’t), it’s basically a rustic, lightly sweet, layered croissant-like thing. Apparently all the charm in the entire bakery has been focused into this one item, and it shows. The buttery, crispy layers of the kouign amann have just the right texture and softness as you pull them apart, and they go perfectly with one of those fancy lattes I was just raving about.

'Kouign amann' is French for 'Finally, something with character'.

‘Kouign amann’ is French for ‘Finally, something with character’.

At the end of the day, Alexander’s Patisserie is a great way to spend 45 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. There are fancy expensive things you can take pictures of to impress your friends, and if you look closely you’ll find a few delicious morsels to eat too. If you’re a fan of macarons, there is a good variety of flavors (and colors) to choose from, and of course there’s something here for coffee lovers as well. I rate this place 43 out of 50 robotically crafted shiny food spheres – above average but not spectacular. Alexander’s is good enough for an entertaining visit, but I don’t think I could ever truly fall in love with it. I’ll visit anytime for a latte and a kouign amann though.

 + Super duper ultra fancy
 – …but no personality
 + Unbelievably clean and neat
 + Prettiest display cases you’ll ever see
++ Kouign amanns and lattes to die for
It doesn’t “feel” like a bakery
The bread is just kind of meh
Nothing is cheap here
Nothing is served warm either

Alexander’s Patisserie
209 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 864-9999

Alexander's Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Like I said, it's all fancy and stuff.

Like I said, it’s all fancy and stuff.

Back A Yard

meter-greatIf you look up “hole in the wall” in the dictionary, you will see a picture of Back A Yard. This tiny little Caribbean eatery is exactly my kind of place – it’s quirky, unique, and adored by locals. From the moment I first heard about this place I knew I’d have to pay it a visit.

” Oh, how I’ve dreamt about those sides “

I don’t tend to trust Yelp very much, thanks to their questionable policies and gangster-like business practices, but it’s worth noting that Back A Yard is perched comfortably on top of Yelp’s highest rated list for the area. That is no easy feat, even if you’ve paid your monthly protection money. But enough about Yelp. This is about a great little restaurant and its relationship to my stomach.

This is the whole place. No really, this is it.

This is the whole place. No really, this is it.

Parking at Back A Yard’s Menlo Park location is tricky at best, so if you have the opportunity to talk someone else into driving you there, you should. Once you manage to make your way inside, you will be greeted by an array of hand-written menu boards detailing the eight million different things you can order. There are a number of delightfully authentic choices available (Oxtails and sweet potato pudding anyone?), as well as a selection of more typically American lunch options.

The BBQ chicken was no-nonsense and delicious. Pretty good coleslaw too.

The BBQ chicken was no-nonsense and delicious. Pretty good coleslaw too.

On my first visit I opted for a barbecue chicken lunch. In retrospect this was a stupid choice, because why would I go out of my way to visit a Caribbean joint and then not order Caribbean food? Yeah, sometimes I don’t understand me either. In any case, the barbecue chicken was wonderful. It was cooked to perfection and absolutely drenched in sauce. It came with a healthy serving of crinkle fries, cole slaw, and a dinner roll. A metric ton of napkins were also provided, which was a good thing – it was MESSY.

The jerk chicken was the lunch of my dreams.

The jerk chicken was the lunch of my dreams.

Realizing that I had been an idiot, I returned a few days later and got myself some jerk chicken. Where, oh where has this place been all of my life?? The chicken was nothing short of amazing; it had an entire spice cupboard’s worth of flavor packed into every bite, and it was neither too spicy nor too mild. And the sides! Oh, how I’ve dreamt about those sides since I visited. The jerk chicken lunch comes with rice and beans – a personal favorite – as well as fried plantains – an even favoriter.. personal… uh, thing. I kind of wrote myself into a corner there.

Listen. It’s difficult to write sentences that make sense when you have fried plantains on the brain. They are one of the very best things in the entire world, and Back A Yard knows how to cook up a mean batch of them. Go get some. Now.

There is exactly as much seating available outside as there is inside: Not much.

There is exactly as much seating available outside as there is inside: Not much.

Back A Yard is exactly the kind of place I love discovering: A homey little joint with fantastic food tucked away in a forgotten corner of town. If you’re a fan of Caribbean cuisine, this is the place you’ve been looking for. If you’ve never tried Caribbean, then get your butt down to Menlo Park sometime and give it a whirl. This eatery earns a respectable 16 out of 18 deliciously fried plantain slices, making it well worth a lunchtime visit. Just remember to get there a bit early if you expect to both park and find a place to sit.

+ 1) Authentic
+ 2) Caribbean
+ 3) Food
+ See pros 1-3
It’s tiny inside
I mean like really tiny
+ But nobody cares about that

Back A Yard
Two locations in the Bay Area

Back a Yard Caribbean American Grill on Urbanspoon

Umami Burger

meter-great-Umami Burger has a lot going for it, namely truffles. This restaurant also happens to make a mean burger and some of the best onion rings I’ve encountered west of Salt Lake City, but it’s the truffles that are the first, last, and pretty much only thing you’re going to remember. The thought of this will have you either drooling or gagging, depending of course on whether or not you like truffles.

Thanks to for letting me, ahem, 'borrow' this picture.

Thanks to for letting me, ahem, ‘borrow’ this picture.

” Oh how I longed for a humble bottle of Heinz 57 “

Umami Burger is a medium-sized restaurant chain primarily based in California, but there are a handful of locations scattered across the U.S. as well. The very first thing I noticed when I walked in to the Umami Burger in Palo Alto was – you guessed it – the smell of truffles. It seems that the majority of humans on the planet love the hell out of those musty underground tumors, but I am not one of those people. To me, truffles have a very chemical-y, unpleasant reek. There’s a funk to the things that just isn’t right, and they taste like other people’s bad breath smells. Most of the other patrons in the restaurant seemed to be on the opposite end of the truffle spectrum from me; they were all rather enjoying the odor, inhaling blissfully as though they were eating $100 bills with their nostrils.

To each their own, I suppose. I can’t hold the truffle thing against Umami Burger just because I don’t personally like them, but because so much of the experience at this place relies on those stinky little mushrooms, the subject can’t be avoided.

The artisan pickle plate (shown here half-eaten) was excellent.

The artisan pickle plate (shown here half-eaten) was excellent.

The capable and courteous restaurant staff quickly showed me and the rest of my lunch party (the usual suspects) us to a table. I counted eighteen items on the menu, consisting of burgers, salads, and sides. Of these, more than half featured truffles in some form. I opted for a Manly burger (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) and a side of truffle-less fries. For the table we got a house pickle plate and an order of tempura onion rings. The pickle plate showed up almost immediately, and it featured six different kinds of pickled vegetables. The green beans were by far my favorite, but the beets were pretty darned excellent as well. We were halfway through the plate before I remembered to take a picture of it… Oops.

The next time I develop a craving for onion rings, I'm coming back here.

The next time I develop a craving for onion rings, I’m coming back here.

A few minutes later, our order of onion rings showed up. Wow! Why oh why doesn’t everyone prepare their onion rings tempura style? These rings were absolutely superb with just the right balance between crunch and perfectly cooked onion. Most importantly, when taking a bite of a ring, molten hot onion did not slide out of the batter and slap me in the chin. The onion severed cleanly and easily; every bite was perfection.

Hey, my hamburger bun still has the label on it.

Hey, my hamburger bun still has the label on it.

My Manly burger and fries arrived shortly afterwards, and everything looked great – this place certainly does a good job on presentation. I am happy to report that both the burger and the fries were extremely delicious. The quality of the beef patty was outstanding, and it had a nice crispy grilled crust on it. Yum. I could still faintly taste truffles somewhere in my burger though, likely cross-contamination from all of the other truffle-heavy foods prepared in the kitchen.

Also available in truffle version. This should not surprise you.

Also available in truffle version. This should not surprise you.

The shoestring-style fries were also quite excellent. Partway through the meal, however, pungent truffle flavor suddenly appeared on the fries and forcibly drove all other tastes out of my mouth. What the… Where did that come from? I tried another fry and there was no truffle taste at all. Eh? It was then that I realized there were truffles in the ketchup. IN THE EFFING KETCHUP. Is nothing sacred in this place?? I had no choice but to endure my otherwise excellent burger and fries without any ketchup at all, which was something of a disappointment. Oh how I longed for a humble bottle of Heinz 57.

In spite of my mushroom-based grumblings, I truly enjoyed my experience at Umami Burger. I know that I am among the genetic minority of people who find that truffles smell like pig urine. Yes, yes, I’m sure I am missing out on something wonderful, but that’s beside the point. Getting back on track, I rate Umami Burger a very respectable 90 out of 100 grams of tuber melanosporum. If you’re looking for a good burger and some great onion rings a notch above standard burger joint fare, this is the place for you.

+ Well-executed burgers with a gourmet kick
+ Masterful tempura onion rings
 – Black truffles are in everything
– – Like seriously EVERYTHING
+ If you enjoy truffles that’s good though
 – But I don’t

P.S. I used the word “truffle” in this post 18 times. Make that 19.

Umami Burger
Multiple locations throughout the U.S.

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Jan’s Deli

meter-good-greatJan’s Deli can be summed up in five simple words: Best turkey sandwiches in California. I don’t really need to say anything else about this place, and in fact there isn’t a whole lot more to report. Don’t worry though, I’ll find something to blather on about for another couple paragraphs. Trust me about the sandwiches though. Holy crap.

The signage doubles as the menu.

The signage doubles as the menu.

” A one-trick pony … but what a trick it is “

As it turns out, Menlo Park is full of excellent, quirky eateries. These tiny, hole-in-the-wall, locally owned food joints are exactly the kind of places I seek out when I’m looking for a bite. Sure, I could guarantee myself a modestly below average lunch at Panera Bread or Subway, but I’d much rather take a gamble on something new and different. One of the best of these gambles has turned out to be Jan’s Deli.

Besides sandwiches, there really isn't much else going on here.

Besides sandwiches, there really isn’t much else going on here.

The menu at Jan’s consists of a couple varieties of deli salad and to-order sandwiches. There are the usual varieties of cold cuts to choose from, spicy pork, meatloaf, and legendary hot roast turkey. I’m not exaggerating about the turkey. I would be thrilled if, just once in my entire life, I could make a Thanksgiving turkey half as good as the stuff Jan’s cranks out every day.

This is where the magic happens.

This is where the magic happens.

I usually get the same thing whenever I visit here for lunch: Turkey on Dutch crunch with everything. Deeeeeeeeelish. You can also ask for white meat only and, if you’re in the mood for it, cranberry sauce is a tasty addition. The perfectly fresh bread complements the hot roast turkey and the cool, fresh veggies. A sandwich of this absolute quality is a rare thing indeed. Above all else, the succulent, savory juiciness of the turkey takes center stage. THAT is what good turkey is supposed to taste like.

Pictures do not do this sandwich justice.

Pictures do not do this sandwich justice.

On a recent visit, I also tried out an order of mac salad. It was a bit on the plain side, but I liked it just fine. It wasn’t the best mac salad I’ve ever had; if I’m honest, I can’t even say it was above average. I would order it again for myself, but it’s probably not for everyone.

The minimum definition of macaroni salad.

The minimum definition of macaroni salad.

For a turkey fanatic, Jan’s Deli is the go-to lunch place in Menlo Park. I have dragged a number of other people to this place with mostly positive results. Those who were indifferent about Jan’s just so turned out to be the same people that didn’t order turkey sandwiches. Without a doubt, this strange little place is a one-trick pony … but what a trick it is.

It’s difficult to rate establishments like this. Jan’s doesn’t have a lot of strengths, but what strengths it has it plays to quite well. Jan’s doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t, and I have to admire the simple purity and focus of the friendly folks that run this joint. I rate Jan’s Deli 20 out of 24 Dutch crunch rolls, somewhere between the utter perfection of their flagship turkey sandwiches and the mediocrity of everything else.

+ You will have dreams about the turkey
…but not about the mac salad
+ Fresh, perfect bread
+ Did I mention the turkey?
Limited hours
Menu is all but nonexistent

Jan’s Deli
1004 Alma Street
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 321-9372

Jan's Deli on Urbanspoon

May the drooling begin.

May the drooling begin.

The Great South Bay Falafel-Off

In ancient times, falafels were not just delicious fried balls of chick peas. Falafel making was at the center of human existence in those days; empires rose and fell at the mercy of their leaders’ falafel prowess. To question another’s falafel was to insult the very core of their being, and bloody falafel duels were common on the dusty streets of, uh … the cities where, um, falafels were popular. Whichever cities those were. I’m not really sure.

” No, ‘gyros’ is not plural “

Ok, so perhaps I’ve embellished a little bit on the history of falafels, but that’s beside the point. What really matters is that I have personally researched two present-day South Bay chick pea giants: Falafel’s Drive-In and Falafel Stop. Let’s see how they compare.

Falafel’s Drive-In

Smallest 'parking lot' I have ever seen. I'm not sure it can hold an entire car.

Smallest ‘parking lot’ I have ever seen. I’m not sure it can hold an entire car.

meter-great-The first stop on my quest for the greatest Mediterranean food within five miles of my house was Falafel’s Drive-In. This place was already immensely popular before being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives back in 2007, and since then it’s become even more mainstream. The first thing my lunch party and I noticed when we pulled up was a cartooned Guy Fieri featured in the middle of a large, colorful mural in the semi-outdoor dining area. Then we spotted another Guy Fieri in another mural, and then another. So pretty much this place is the Church of Guy. Weird. If anyone had asked me if I’d like some Kool-Aid, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

The decor isn't boring, that's for sure.

The decor isn’t boring, that’s for sure.

The menu offers a variety of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, as well as more traditional diner fare like burgers and fries. After deliberating on the menu and placing our order, it took only a few minutes for our food to show up at the window – barely enough time to finish counting Guys.

No, 'gyros' is not plural.

No, ‘gyros’ is not plural.

I opted for a gyros pita, mostly because that’s what I always get at places like this. Instead of the thin strips I was expecting, Falafel’s Drive-In serves their gyros meat as large, cubed lumps… and it really works. The tzatziki sauce was excellent, the veggies were crisp and fresh as can be, and the pita bread was stuffed to its absolute maximum capacity. I’ve had plenty of gyros over the years, and this is one of the better ones I’ve encountered. I’ll be back for another one of those.

I'm pretty sure I have no idea how to pronounce this.

I’m pretty sure I have no idea how to pronounce this.

Also included in our lunch order was a koubby, which is basically a large beef meatball with pine nuts and onions wearing a crispy wheat jacket. None of us at the table knew how to pronounce “koubby” but we guessed it might rhyme with “Scooby”, and so we simply referred to it as a Scooby Snack. This is undoubtedly incorrect on many levels, but because it amused us we just went with it.

I don’t have a lot of experience with Scooby Snacks – indeed, it was something new for all of us – but I am happy to report that it was very tasty indeed. I noticed a definite undertone of cinnamon in the ground beef filling, but it was well-balanced and very meaty. It reminded me very much of pastitsio (aka Greek lasagne) in its flavor profile. Delicious.

Everyone likes pictures of French fries.

Everyone likes pictures of French fries.

Falafel’s Drive-In is also very well known for their banana milkshakes, but because it was a million degrees below zero that day we opted out. Ok, so it was actually about 55 degrees F, but in California that’s cold enough to make liquid nitrogen. Weather aside, I give Falafel’s Drive-In a very respectable 8 out of 10 Scooby Snacks. We very much enjoyed our visit and would be happy to return sometime very soon.

+ Gigantical chunks of gyros meat
+ Scooby Snacks!
+ It’s been on Triple-D
+ Banana milkshakes are rumored to be awesome
Guy is watching you
No parking to speak of

Falafel’s Drive-In
2301 Stevens Creek Boulevard
San Jose, CA 95128
(408) 294-7886

Falafel Drive-in on Urbanspoon


Falafel Stop

Exactly like Falafel's Drive-In, minus the murals.

Exactly like Falafel’s Drive-In, minus the murals.

meter-greatThe second half of this Mediterranean showdown takes place at Falafel Stop, another icon of South Bay one-off fast food. At first glance, it looks pretty much the same as Falafel’s Drive-In. It has a walk-up window, generous outdoor seating, (almost) no parking, and a massive cult following. At this point, however, the similarities end. You will not find a burger, gyros, or koubby on the menu at Falafel Stop; instead the focus is on shuwarmas, kebabs, and of course falafel.

There's plenty of room to sit and be confused about your order.

There’s plenty of room to sit and be confused about your order.

We perused the menu, decided on our plan of attack, and obediently stood in line underneath a sign clearly indicating “Order Here”. (There’s a reason I make a point of this fact. More on this later.) While we were waiting, we were presented with piping hot samples of crispy, divine falafel complete with a drizzle of dipping sauce. Oh my goodness were they delicious, and quite an unexpected bonus as part of our visit. Plus one point for Falafel Stop.

Little golden balls of nom

Little golden balls of nom

We ordered a shuwarma pita, a Greek salad, some falafel, and a couple of sodas. We paid the cashier and he handed us two receipts. He said, “Head over to the grill for the hot food, but the falafel are from the kitchen so we’ll bring those to you. Let us know when you get the salad so we can put another falafel on that.” Even he seemed confused by this. We nodded dumbly, took the receipts, and looked around unsure of what to do next. “The grill will have your order, that’s what the other receipt is for,” he clarified.



We shuffled a few steps into the dining area, scanning our two receipts for a possible clue and glancing back at the dubious “Order Here” sign. At that moment, someone handed us our sodas and a little bag of falafel. The cashier stuck his head out of the door and said, “The kitchen already knew about your falafel so you can never mind that part.”


Utterly flabbergasted, we decided just to sit down and see what would happen next. After a few minutes, someone walked out from what was apparently “the grill” and asked us if we had ordered a shuwarma pita. “Um, yes, we did,” I replied.

“Oh ok,” he said, “we have your order over here. I need your receipt.” I handed him one of the receipts. “The other one,” he said. I handed him the other one. He walked me over to the grill area and proceeded to expertly and swiftly construct my shuwarma pita, and it looked fairly amazing.

The prices at Falafel Stop appear to have been set using a random number generator.

The prices at Falafel Stop appear to have been set using a random number generator.

I returned to the table with my grilled pocket of perfection, and we waited. Nothing seemed to be happening. We noticed an area next to the cashier that looked like it might be where the salads happen, and we guessed our other receipt might be required. It was. The salad people did their thing and before long our entire order had been completed. We think.

This is the pita bread you've been searching your whole life for.

This is the pita bread you’ve been searching your whole life for.

Setting aside the ridiculous ordering process for a moment, let me just say that the food at Falafel Stop is nothing short of spectacular. The falafel were great (as I’ve already mentioned), the shuwarma meat was seasoned to perfection and plentiful, and the veggies were remarkably fresh. Even the salad was excellent. What really caught me by surprise, however, was the pita bread. Holy smoley, what a masterpiece. Pita bread is usually a forgettable, dry envelope that holds delicious things; it’s just a utensil, a throw-away. I don’t think I can even recall what normal pita bread even tastes like… but THIS stuff. Wow! It arrives fresh from the kitchen piping hot and fluffy – it’s truly a thing to behold. It falls somewhere between an English muffin and naan. Incredible.

It's all Greek to me. Salad, that is.

It’s all Greek to me. Salad, that is.

In the end, I felt that the food at Falafel Stop edged out Falafel’s Drive-In. The two can’t really judged in a side-by-side comparison because they are so different, but if you asked me which of the two I’d rather visit next, I’d choose Falafel Stop. Unfortunately, the inane process to actually acquire food at Falafel Stop put a bit of a damper on their score, but I still feel that they deserve a solid 9 out of 10 fluffy pitas.

 + Falafel samples!
 + That pita bread, I don’t even
+/- More parking than Falafel Drive-In, barely
Incomprehensible ordering system
Seriously, what the hell

Falafel Stop
1325 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 735-7182

Falafel Stop on Urbanspoon

Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.