05 Feb 2010 @ 7:06 PM 

You have again picked a winner!!!

 With an average score of 3.002525253….. and a YUK Score of 2.25  DON CARMELO’S PIZZA!!!!

 With an average score of 2.604651163….. and a YUK score of 3.25  FRANK’S PIZZA!!!!

 My co-workers have chosen Don Carmelo’s Pizza in a head to head challenge in week 2.  

 

Frank’s Pizza

Don Carmelo’s

Average Score

2.604651163

3.002525253

Average Yuk

3.25

2.25

Total Score

2.471590909

2.888613861

 Comments from 3 random comments:

“The size of Franks was better, but without a doubt Don Carmelo’s out scored in all categories but ‘YUK’.”

“They Both Taste Pretty Bad, but Don Carmelo’s is much better.  The Spice on Franks made it really bad.”

“Don’s pizza is much smaller than Frank’s.  I also didn’t have any Sauce on Don’’s”

Now… I have to weigh in on the subject.  I am a HUGE Fran’s fan.  I personally feel that it has been the best pizza in town… but lately… something has happened to the sauce…  It’s gotten a little weak.  It used to be strong and well spiced… now it’s too bright and doesnt have any zing.  I’m sorry guys… you are still my favorite and my go-to pizza place… but I need more out of you.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:08 PM

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 29 Jan 2010 @ 10:41 PM 

Recently there was a contest at another branch of the company I work for in Connecticut to crown their king of pizza. Not wanting to be out done by people from the east coast, my office is getting together to do our “Super Bowl” of Pizza. We’re in process of building our “Pizza Grid” of our competitors which we should have out next week.

This week we pitted La Casa against Zios in a 3 pie battle. 

The rules are as follows: 3 Pizzas will be ordered from each location. A hamburger, a pepperoni, and a cheese. Each pizza will be rated on crust, sauce, toppings, cheese, “eww” factor, and general overall like or dislike.

La Casa —————————-Zios
Total 2.878787879                  Total 2.878787879
Yuk 2.875                                   Yuk 2.2857142
Total points: 95                           Total Points: 95
Net Points: 92.125                    Net Points: 92.714

As you can tell Zios squeaked by La Casa.

Comments include: “I didn’t like either, but Zios was better all around. Zios looked like a pizza. La Casa more closely resembled an oil drip pan.”

“La Casa: Too Garlicy Zios: Good, but so-so crust”

“Zios: Crust Limp, Greasy, Cheese is weak”

For the record, my preference is La Casa between the two. Who knew that Zios would win… I will keep you posted.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 05 Feb 2010 @ 07:09 PM

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 24 Nov 2009 @ 5:27 AM 

With the economy taking a big dump here lately and comfort food finally getting some of the gourmet recognition it deserves, hamburgers are getting a little bit more press and more of the spotlight. Lately, I had been hearing some buzz from co-workers on two new burger joints going in. One is 5 guys burgers and fries and the other is Smashburger. Funny thing is I have been meaning to go to each and review them… ok.. yeah.. well… Apparently I haven’t reviewed jack squat for a while. To be honest, I haven’t been able to go out much and when I do, I go to places like Hiro because I know what to expect. (Quality food and quality service) but since I have not Posted anything in a while… I figure I should flex my descriptive muscle and start writing again. That being said… Here goes nothing..

The Nebraska Rifle season for Deer opened weekend before last. I had taken the day off of work in hopes of getting all my errands done, get the last trip to Sheels in and then get out to door and make it to the hunting ground and set up shop. What I thought was going to be an early start, got off late. My wife and I had some time to kill and we were driving on L street and decided that perhaps that day was going to be the day to hit Smashburger. We pulled in and crossed the parking lot with plenty of anticipation. It was 11:30AM and we could see that the place was already packed. We walked in and it was standing room only. There was no place to sit. Every table was taken and there was a line to the door. My wife spotted a table that was about to empty and made a B-line for it and claimed it as ours. Meanwhile, I stuck it out at the counter and put in our order. 1 Husker burger and an order of fries. Then a double baja burger and an order of what they call smash fries. Then I ordered two drinks. I received my plastic “10” and two cups. I filled them at the drink station (one diet coke and one coke zero) and then headed off to meet my lovely bride who was fending off a hoard of angry drunken midgets bent on usurping our table(sorry, just kidding). I sat down with her and started talking about kids and work. A few moments later a few ladies showed up with our food. They came out in rectangular metal baskets with paper lining. Our fries rested atop this basket in a conical shaped basket with fries in each. My wife had and order of fries and the husker burger which came with cheese and A-1 . I ordered a double meat Baja burger and smash fries. It was a well played attempt to bring some class to the a common burger.

Smash fries, I must say, were a bit surprising. They are a seasoned fry, using oregano as their primary herb. They were hot, crispy and cooked to perfection. I really liked them. My wife’s fries were good too, but she didn’t have the seasoning. I would say that the smash fries are a win. My burger, the spicy baja, comes with pepper jack, guacamole, veggies, chippotle mayonnaise and jalapenos. I tore into this burger with a vengeance…. it was my breakfast after all. The meat was flavorful and you could see the wonderful crust on the meat from being smashed flat Each bit was seasoned and flavorful. I have to say I got lost in my food until I looked up to this person looking over the wall at me with a mouthful of burger bliss. I could tell by the fact that the line was moving slow and he wanted to try to find a seat. So I snapped out of it and began to rush through my food. My wife rushed through hers. As soon as we were done, we were ambushed by the wait staff trying to get us out the door.

Pluses: Darn good burgers. Great fries. Food came out fast

Minuses: SMALL dining area and not enough seating.

Overall Impression: It was a fantastic burger experience that I will do again. I would love to rate them higher but I felt we were rushed out to get out rable. They should have made it bigger from the start. I will suggest this place to anyone that wants a good burger.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 24 Nov 2009 @ 05:27 AM

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 21 Jul 2009 @ 9:50 PM 

My wife, the lover of all things Blogosphere, sent me this link.  It’s a site dedicated to taking fast food and doing something interesting with it.  Now I want to see if I can do KFC Spring Rolls or something.

http://www.fancyfastfood.com/

Enjoy.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 21 Jul 2009 @ 09:50 PM

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Categories: Fast Food, She reviewed it
 23 Jun 2009 @ 7:38 PM 

Ok, I will admit we are big Food Network watchers in this house.  The Omaha Critic and I both love to cook, and inevitably on the weekend we end up watching something that makes us drool with food lust.  Often, that comes from Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Guy was in Omaha at some point in the last year or two, and one of the places he covered was California Taco, on 30th and California.  After seeing it on tv, The Critic and I decided that one of these days we’d have to make it down there.  Well, we tried last weekend.  Sadly, we arrived right before 9 PM when the restaurant closed.  However, the guy at the door was nice enough to let us in to place a quick order to go – and thinking quickly on our feet, we ordered some beef puffy tacos – I think they’re referred to as california tacos on the menu.

The puffy taco itself is a piece of flatbread stuffed with taco meat and deep fried, after which they add lettuce and cheese.  In our to-go bag, they also included cups of red salsa and green salsa, to add a little extra flavor.

After waiting maybe 10 minutes, our order of 4 puffy tacos was handed off, and we headed out to the car, wishing we’d been there early enough to try the chimichangas and other treats on the menu.  Alas, we will have to visit again sometime in the future!

I will say, we both enjoyed the tacos.  Without the sauces, they were a little bland for our liking.  I liked the addition of the red salsa to the tacos, where The Omaha Critic preferred the heat of the green salsa.  The tacos were a good size and flavorful, and all in all, we both thought they were good.  The price?  It’s a little high perhaps for what it is and the location, but that’s based on The Omaha Critic’s Texas roots.

Pluses:  The food was good.  It didn’t take a long time, and thankfully, they still let us order as they were closing the doors.

Minuses:  It’s a little pricey for what it is, but it was still pretty good.

Overall Impression:  The puffy tacos weren’t enough to sell us on this being one of our favorites.  They were, however, enough to get us to want to go back and try more of the menu.  All in all?  I’m going to give it four french fries.  With salt and red salsa, Baby.

~~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 25 Jun 2009 @ 03:54 AM

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 06 Jun 2009 @ 4:43 AM 

The Omaha Critic and I (his oh so critical wife!) are always on the lookout for good pizza.  I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it in these parts, but we have a large brood.  While the youngest isn’t quite up to chowing down on a good slice of pie yet, the rest are highly appreciative of any place that will serve them tasty melted cheese and pepperoni. 

Sadly, I will admit we find most of the major pizza chains lacking.  Sure, they will do in a pinch, and some of them have some fairly cheap deals that allow us to feed our gang without going broke, but they just serve pizza with no character. 

In hopes of finding pizza WITH character, the Critic and I went AWOL and tried Pudgy’s Pizza near 168th and Harrison.  We showed up around 7:30 on a Friday night to find the place busy, but with a table or two open. 

We grabbed a table, and I went up to the counter to place our order, which was for a 14″ Chicago Deep Dish with Pepperoni, Beef, Olives, and Mushrooms.  Yeah, The Critic is a purist and would have probably preferred straight up pepperoni or “The Works”, but *I* was the one ordering!  Had he noticed they served them, The Critic would also have liked to try their Chicago style hot dogs, but we will have to save that for another time.

The restaurant itself is unassuming.  The decor is obviously meant to bring Chicago to mind.  The joint itself isn’t fancy.  You order at the counter and get your own drinks.  But really?  You don’t need fancy in a pizza joint.  In a word, it’s comfortable.  Honestly, that’s perfect for a neighborhood pizza joint.

After a bit of a wait (it was Friday night, and they had a steady stream of business) our pizza was delivered to our table by the owner, along with paper plates, napkins, and plastic flatware.  Again, it’s unassuming.  But the pizza itself?  It was good.  The Omaha Critic and I have both spent some time in Chicago, and tried various pizza joints, including the famous Lou Malnotti’s.  I will say, it is not quite as deep, nor as saucy.  But it was still VERY good.  The crust was thick, but not doughy.  The toppings were plentiful and high quality.  They sprinkled the top with garlic salt or powder, which added a nice tang to the pizza.  All in all, it was a great pie. 

That character we were in search of?  It came in the form of Pudgy’s Pizza owner Phil “Pudgy” Cerra.   While it was our first time eating in the restaurant, we felt like we were somewhere we’d been many times before.  Pudgy stopped at our table several times to check on how we were doing, how the food was, and to make some suggestions for future visits based on how The Critic doctored his pizza (lots of red pepper!).  While this could be annoying if done by the wrong personality, it certainly wasn’t.  Pudgy is a very personable guy, and obviously has the drive it takes to make a great pizza joint work.

I can definitely say we’ll be going back, and taking our band of devils cherubs with us next time!

Plusses: The food itself – hearty, tasty, and plentiful.  The service – all of the employees were smiling and appeared to be having a great time!  We have to say the owner, Phil “Pudgy” Cerra was a big plus.  His personality brings a lot to the overall atmosphere of the place.  Also, the kitchen, which is visible from the counter where you order, is clean and appears to run very well.

Minuses:  They need a bigger location with more tables.  A jukebox would be nice (or some sort of music).  And if the pizza was about a half inch deeper, it would overtake any Chicago Deep Dish we’ve ever tried.

Overall Impression:  The pizza “friggin’ rocked” (The Omaha Critic’s exact words).  We were greatly impressed not only with the food, but with the owner’s great care and concern for all of his customers, and the great attention he paid to making sure everyone had a great experience.  If you’re in West Omaha, it’s definitely worth your time to get a great pizza.  Even if you’re not in West O?  It’s well worth the trek.  Pudgy’s Pizza.  Get some!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 06 Jun 2009 @ 04:48 AM

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 27 Mar 2009 @ 5:40 PM 

Ok, so much for the stupid title.  Bella’s is a little Greek fast food place serving up Gyros, Burgers, Salads, and Philly Sandwiches.  They have more than that too… Just check out their website. 

That being said, I have been in and out of Bella’s as well as through their drive through.   They have a very small dining room, with booths and a bar with stools at the window for those on the go.   Now I don’t have one specific experience that I’m writing about here, since my wife has lived off of Bella’s for the majority of her pregnancy.  She’s brought me home Gyro salad after salad and burgers galore.  I have never once had an item from Bella’s that left me feeling like I got a mediocre meal or not worth what I paid.  I love their cheese burgers I have to say.  Honestly though… I have been eating a ton of their gyro meat salads.  I’m doing the whole low-carb thing and meat and lettuce work for me.  I have about 1 or two of them a week.

One of the things that struck me though, when I go through the drive through and when I dine in, is the fact that their kitchen is always clean.  Not just tidy, but clean.  Aren’t all Greek places supposed to be nasty?  I have never been sick from eating at Bella’s and I hope that never changes.

Ok, I know this isn’t a worth-while review.. I didn’t describe the food, but c’mon.  I am in drive through 99% of the time.  I will say this about Bella’s.  They are generous with their coupons, and the food is always hot and fresh.  I think the anyone wanting a good Gyro at a reasonable price would do well with Bella’s.

Plusses: CLEAN!  Good Value! Nice staff!

Minuses: the double drive through, where you pay at one side and pick up your food on the other is a little confusing.

Overall Impression:  I like the place and I would recommend it to anyone.  The menu is limited, but if you do something well, do over extend yourself.  The staff is nice; they didn’t hire the normal fast food idiots and morons that seem to be multiplying around Omaha. Good job Bella’s.  Keep it up.

~The Omaha Critic

  

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 27 Mar 2009 @ 05:40 PM

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 31 May 2008 @ 2:41 AM 

I have decided that since my favorite barbeque caterer had opened a store front, I might as well do a review of his food. To be honest with you, I feel a little guilty for not going to his new establishment in Ralston. I met “The Meat Man” about 6 months ago when I started a new job here in Omaha. I was working through lunch, like I always do, and the head project manager came over and asked me if I had met “The Meat Man”. Well, obviously, since I just started, I hadn’t met him yet. So I wandered out into the lobby of our building to see what all the hubbub was.

During the work week, our company invites different businesses to come in and sell food in our lobby during the lunch. The vendors have to be here at 11AM and need to stay until 1:30PM. We’ve had Chinese, subs, pizza, and Mexican which have all been pretty good. Then? You have “The Meat Man”!

“The Meat Man” has been coming every Wednesday and Friday every week without fail for at least 6 months. Now, because of his storefront business opening and the desire of our employees for some variety, he’s now down to one day a week. It makes me sad, because now we have Godfather’s on “The Meat Man’s” Friday schedule. That was a major downer.

This is where this review gets complicated. I need to review this business, and I don’t know how to do it. I have yet to go to his storefront in Ralston, but I feel that his “q” is so damn good, that I have to say something about it. So I am ONLY going to review my interaction with him and his food.

The owner of Big Boy BBQ, has been coming to my location for 6 months. Each and every time I have spoken to him and ordered from him, he has been attentive, friendly and patient (for those people who just stand there looking at the menu that hardly changes). The area that he sets up in is always clean, the steam tables are running hot, and his cold items are kept in a large cooler that is clean and well chilled. When he cleans up for the day, his area is left just as he found it. I know this doesn’t sound like much, however there have been some vendors that have come in and the food is set on the floor, not stored properly, and one time (that I witnessed) “Blimpie” took the lid off their soup crock pot and set it food side down on the floor. I vowed never to eat “Blimpie” in the building again (which I did, and got violently ill). So… “Blimpie” as a reference, Big Boy BBQ is a freak’n school cafeteria (which always has A+ health ratings).

So I’ve had several meat combinations, from his ham, to the ribs, and even a jalapeno sausage. The end-all, be all, item that “The Meat Man” has? That’s the pulled pork. I typically get it without a bun and with cheesy potatoes. It’s $5.50 for all that. His spicy sauce is the perfect accompaniment to both the pork and the potatoes. The pork is smoked to perfection without being overpowering to the pallet. I honestly want to go back for seconds each and every time he’s here, but I feel foolish (so I don’t).

Pluses: Great food, great smoke level, everything I’ve had is juicy and flavorful. It’s a great deal for $5.50 and you get tons of food. Clean Clean Clean!!!!

Minuses: Needs pickles and onions on the table. Needs an “extra spicy”. Doesn’t sell sweet tea at the catering stop!

Overall Impression: I like this guy! I like “The Meat Man!!!” as my co-worker puts it: “He’ll give you lots of meat!” He takes the time to make it right and is proud of his work. He is also open to suggestions. Here is his MENU!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 31 May 2008 @ 02:41 AM

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 11 Apr 2008 @ 2:38 AM 

I’m sitting here wanting to review The Amazing Pizza Machine with an open heart and mind, but I find myself bashing it over and over again each time I thought about the food.  I have to remember that it’s more than the food, it’s the total experience.  That being said, I will try to be fair and recount my entire experience.

As usual, I was running late at work and my wife and the kids were hungry.  This typically means that I’m not going to be cooking dinner.  The day we visited The Amazing Pizza Machine, the kids were on Spring Break.  We wanted to do something fun and special for them.  Sitting home all week, when my wife took the whole week off of work to be with the kids, we believed, would seriously stink.  So, we tried to plan the entire week for the bunch.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the time off. 

We end up going to The Amazing Pizza Machine at 7:35 PM and get “The Amazing Buffet” for the lot of us. We spend some coin on “credits” for their “Entertainment Center” and head for our seat.  This evening, they only had half of the buffet open as they weren’t pushing the numbers through mid week.  That’s fine.  They typically have the buffet duplicated on the other half  to accommodate the crowds.  So I go up and get a salad and we sit in one of the large rooms.  The Flintstones are on the big screen and we start eating.  I figured we would take our time.  Kids didn’t have school the next day and I wanted to unwind from work.  We sit there for a few minutes, and they announce that the buffet will be closing in 20 minutes.  I look over at my wife: “Uhhhh.  We just got here.  We should complain.”  I wasn’t worried.  I figured that was plenty of time to throw down some pizza then head out into the arcade to blow some stuff up.  HA!  I was wrong.  I went up to get some other food, and there were already in process of breaking down the buffet.  Not that I go to this sad excuse of a Valentino’s grand buffet for the food, but I paid for it, don’t put it up until it’s closed.  So, I quickly grab some macaroni and cheese, a piece of crappy pizza and go back to my chair.  As I sit down the bus-person starts grabbing plates off our table.  Part of which, I was still eating off of.  She leaned over our table as if to hurry us along because SHE wanted to go home.  I’m not happy about this, but wanting to have a fun night with the kids, I just let it roll.  I sent one of the kids for Ice cream (Which they hadn’t torn down yet) and dirtied a few more dishes out of spite.

So, dinner being done, we packed up our coats and went into the “Entertainment Center”.  I can’t tell you how much I blew on their redemption games, but I will tell you that they made their money off of my family and I that night.  One thing I did notice however, is that the staff seemed aloof –OR– like they had the desire to be shot.  You know that feeling: “Just shoot me!”  None of them had any interest in being there.  I have seen that place when it just opened.  Everyone had so much energy and excitement.  Every one of the staff seemed happy and energetic.  It was all crazy and new and they seemed to really care what happened.  Now?  Not so much.

I’m not a Valentino’s fan.  I think that their pizza stinks.  Their sauce is gross and their pasta needs something called flavor.  Don’t get me wrong, because they wouldn’t have as many locations as they do if everyone felt the way I do.  I am GLAD that Valentino’s opened The Amazing Pizza Machine.  It’s a great place for kids and families.  I just think that the food stinks and the service is lousy.  There is no pride in the employees anymore.

Plusses – It’s a great place for kids.  Their Salad Bar is always nice and clean.  They always have a decent variety of foods and the kids really seem to like it.

Minuses – The food stinks, the staff seems to hate life, there were several games that were broken and were run down.  The photo-booth didn’t work and I just didn’t feel it.

Overall Impression – Don’t get me wrong.  The place has character.  I am glad that they opened it in Millard.   I just wish that they would pay more attention to the quality of the food and the experience in general.  I fear that if they don’t, that they will lose the business.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 11 Apr 2008 @ 02:38 AM

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 10 Dec 2007 @ 4:54 AM 

Well, I was pleasantly surprised yesterday with B & G Tasty Foods.  I was going to paint Christmas ornaments with the family, and we wanted to catch a quick bite before our ‘appointment’.  There were a few places in the strip mall where ‘That Pottery Place’ was and I had been to some of them (in different locations) but, I wanted to try something else that was local.  I had heard some bad things about B & G Tasty Foods, but being the adventurer that I am, I wanted to try it.

I dragged the family in and looked about.  There was a 50’s style diner sprawled out right before my eyes.  There were stools and a counter and classic pictures in the wall depicting things in Omaha history and some 50’s art.  My wife and I looked at each other and took a seat with the kids.  We were the only ones in there besides the guy at the counter and who was ever in back.  Being our first time in there, we expected the guy at the counter to come over and give us menus and take our order.  Instead of coming over, he just stood there staring at us.  We looked at him, he looked at us… Nothing was said.  Then my wife leans over and whispers to me that we should probably stroll up to the counter and get some menus, so she went up and got a few.

After perusing the menu, I realized that they didn’t have much: Burgers and the ‘BeeGees”, with fries, malts and shakes.  You could have different combinations of each, but the selection was limited.  I had the ‘T’ stacker, fries, and a root beer float, the kids had ‘BeeGees’ fries and float, and my wife had a ‘ham and cheese’ sandwich, fries and a soda.  We got our own ‘BeeGee’ with everything just to try it.  The food came rather quickly and we brought it to the table.  The girls mowed through their ‘BeeGees’ quickly, the boys not so much.  As for myself, I was presented with this triple cheeseburger.  The patties seemed pre-formed, but the flavor was fantastic.  I am a burger lover.  I adore a great burger, and believe it or not, was one of the best I had ever had.  The meat was seared on the outside and juicy and flavorful on the inside.  The patties were thin, and the cheese dripped from this thing like molton gold.  Wow.  I was really taken back  The fries?  They were ok… hot and crisp and super skinny.  They were nothing to blog about.  The root beer float, seemed to go with lunch perfectly.  All in all that was really good.  After I finished licking the paper tray that my burger came in (not really, it was just very good) my wife and I turned our attention to the ‘BeeGee’ to give it a whirl.  As far as my loose meat sandwich experience, this was my first.  It wasn’t bad.  I thought it a bit grainy, and needed a little salt.  I would give it a 3 on a 5 scale.  I would eat one happily again, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  The way to go really was the burger.  As we sat, ate and talked about what kind of paintings we were going to do, the place just seemed to fill up around us.  When we left, there were people just waiting in line for our seats.

So, B & G Tasty foods?  You do good work.  You must be doing something right.  Keep it up!  You have a new customer now.

Plusses: The Burger was good!  The root beer floats were tasty and the ‘BeeGees’ were tasty.
Minuses: Bubba behind the counter could tell people they need to order from the counter instead of staring at them.

Overall impression:  This has been an Omaha institution since 1956.  I would urge everyone in Omaha who likes burgers to give this place a whirl.  Oh, their sign makes me think of Jamaica or Brazil.  They really need a good Neon sign to reflect the places heritage. 

The Omaha Critic (Unexpected fan)

P.S. Hey Tom G. you were WRONG!  This place was great!

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 10 Dec 2007 @ 04:54 AM

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