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Monday, July 29, 2013

Guest Post - Pam Lampson - Hester's Cafe & Coffee Bar - Corpus Christi, TX

Hester's Cafe and Coffee Bar in Corpus Christi, Texas is one of those well known secrets that natives of any given city treasure.

Opened seven years ago by Jason and Hester Rodriquez, the original restaurant is downtown on Alameda and Palmero at 6 Points.  Two years ago they opened a second Hester's Cafe at the Art Museum.  Right on the waterfront at the end of Shoreline Drive, the view is spectacular. Both locations have outside seating. Breakfast and lunch are served from 7 am to 3 pm. There is no dinner service.

This week my husband and I are downtown. You order from the menu board high on the wall behind the glass case "bakery." If I was not here for breakfast, the Texas Turbo Brownie...a 4 inch square praline topped chocolate concoction so rich I cannot eat one in a single sitting, would tempt me. The Spice Island Carrot cake beams you instantly to your favorite tropical isle.

You pay at the counter, take your mug of coffee and your hand-decorated wooden letter which you are given instead of the usual industrial "oh I'm just a number" and choose your table. Before long here comes a waiter with a smile, your food and a "May I get you anything else?"
One day I had a chipped mug and this week I had a dirty mug, but both times a new one made a rapid appearance and the apology was sincere.

Omelettes are all 3 eggs and served with roasted, well seasoned red potatoes, a slice of French baguette and what they call a "garnish" of fresh fruit.  I feel it is really more than a garnish though. The fruit that comes in a little cup is an orange slice, a half strawberry, a spear of pineapple, and a thin wedge of cantaloupe.  I always eat the orange slice at the end because it is such a refreshing palate cleanser.  My husband likes the pineapple spear. 

This week I had the Garden of Eaten. Laden with Portobello mushroom, fresh sautéed spinach, this came piping hot with just the perfect amount of Havarti dill cheese...the kind that strings out so you have to wind it around your fork!

My husband had the Ponderosa. This is a guy's jazzed up omelette for sure. Black Forest Ham, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese. Swiss to be sure, but nuttier and more tasteful than any packaged cheese from the grocery store. He thought the omelette was a tad dry, but overall delicious.

We could have added an "indulgence", to our coffee, but we don't like "stuff" in ours so we passed on the flavors and enjoyed the not-to-strong, but definitely fresh coffee of the day which was Peruvian.

Our bill was slightly over $20.00.

Speaking of jazzed up...The Eggs and All That Jazz section of the menu includes an Ella Fitgerald (big-4 eggs), a two egg Duke Ellington with "Griddle Toast" and apple smoked bacon and down to Bessie Smith, scrambled eggs and a dish of organic oatmeal and vegetarian sausage patties. Breakfast panninis are named after stage plays. Lunch panninis, salads and sandwiches are named after things Texan or beachy. The names have only one thing in common with the ingredients...they are fun!

Patronage runs from families with kids, neighborhood workers in for a quick coffee and muffin, to couples obviously out on a first date.

One day on leaving I was offered a couple of free muffins because it was closing time and they did not want to throw anything away.

My kind of place. Yours, too I imagine if you like fresh, well-prepared food, balanced for whatever taste you bring to the table.

Hester's Cafe's Website

You can also find Pam here:  Pam Lampson's Website

Friday, June 28, 2013

Santa Fe Flats NewMex Grille - Jones Road & 249

If you want a flavor you may have never had before.  You should definitely try Santa Fe Flat's!  It is a nice change from our typical tex-mex food.  It is a New Mexican establishment.  It is located in front of the Home Depot on the North bound feeder of 249 just before Jones Rd.

The flavors they incorporate in their food are robust.  They use a lot of chiles.  Of the red and green varieties.  These wonderful spices dance across your tongue with sensations of an earthiness as old as the world itself. Of course I had to try the Monterey Chicken.  It was just as I said above and also really cheesy, yummy, and good!

My husband tried their regular tacos with a hard shell and was surprised that they actually came in a hard shell cup versus the typical taco shape we are used to.  Another trip he ordered the fajitas and told me he did not really see enough of a difference to pay the little but higher price.

Their queso is unlike any other.  It had so many levels of flavor.  I really liked it a lot, and had a hard time figuring out what exactly the flavor was that I was enjoying so much.

They also have a salsa bar with many different salsas for you to try.  I have not made my way over there, but I will next time so I can update this for you guys.  :o)

We have always had good, attentive service.   They are slightly pricier than your typical Mexican restaurant, but in my opinion it is worth the extra money for the change of pace.

I would recommend enjoying their food, and taking a trip to New Mexico right in you backyard.

Santa Fe Flat's Website

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Woodland, Hey Cupcake!, & Steiner Ranch Steakhouse - Austin, TX Edition

My husband and I were in Austin for a Mumford & Sons concert with some friends, and we had the pleasure to enjoy a few really great places to eat.  So you know of course I have to share my experiences of them with you.  I really hope you are pleased while reading this, because I sure did take pleasure eating at these fine establishments.

After a night of dancing and drinking, a bloody mary sounded phenominal!  Our friends took us to a place called Woodland on South Congress.  The bloody mary's were the perfect amount of spice without being so spicy I could feel my stomach burning.  I enjoyed two of them they were so good.  They were served in smaller frosted glasses, so that could be the reason I had two, who knows?!?  I like to side with the fact that they were so yummy though.

The atmosphere in this restaurant is very relaxing.  There is a giant tree in the center.  One of the walls was covered in differently colored green tiles representing leaves.  The whole restaurant is painted in different shades of green.  My favorite color being green I felt very comfortable surrounded by it.  I also got lost in some of the paintings they had hanging on one of the walls.  They were blurred images of landscape.  It made me feel that I was in the car driving past the scenery depicted.  I have to congratulate and commend them for a very well thought out decor.

Our waiter was beyond nice.  He is definitely well suited for the job.  He also had a smile that made you want to smile back.  Great service!

For our breakfast that my husband and I split we decided on Chicken & Waffles.  This was my first chicken and waffles experience and I have to say that it was the best possible experience I could have had.  It was served with both syrup and white gravy.  I have never had a gravy that I have not had to add at least a little salt and pepper.  This one was absolutely perfect.  There was nothing that needed to be added or taken away.    The flavor combination of a friend chicken breast perfectly cooked over a sweet and vanilla-y Belgian waffle with syrup was something magical.  I have always had a stigma against chicken in sweet breakfast dishes, and that has been forever blown out of the water.  If you have a sweet chicken breakfast dish I now want to try it with all my being.  This dish was so good that for the rest of the day I talked incessantly about it.  Even after eating at the two places listed below.  I just could not seem to get it out of my head.  I definitely suggest next time you are in Austin you go here for your breakfast!!

I was also permitted to try my friends grilled cheese sandwich.  The bread was so soft and tasted like a bread cloud.  The cheese combination tasted similar to brie, but was not.  It was very good. Her boyfriend let me also try a bit of his Quiche Loraine, and it also was delectable.  It was an egg cloud.  Both dishes were light and airy, and you could taste the amount of love and care that was taken in making them.

Woodland Website

The food truck area had been spread out all around South Congress, and not in the nice little neat area it had been before, to my disappointment.  The only food truck I was able to eat at was Hey Cupcake!  I ordered their 'The Standard'. Which is a chocolate butter cream on a vanilla cake.  I have to be honest I was slightly disappointed.  The flavors were on point, but the cake was denser than I would have imagined it should have been.  I should have ordered some milk, because I thought I was going to choke from the dryness.  I do not think I would eat this again without ordering a milk with my cupcake. 

 Hey Cupcake! Website

For an early dinner before the concert we headed out to Steiner Ranch Steakhouse.  We arrived a little bit before they opened so we were able to enjoy the simply amazing view of Lake Travis from their awesome outside balcony.

We then sat at the outside bar to eat.  The group decided to order a bunch of smaller plates to share.  We ordered the Tataki which is a raw beef dish.  I had had a Tataki Roll before at RA Sushi, but this was definitely different.  It is served like a Ceviche.  It had green onions and garlic in it and I ignored the fact that it was raw beef and really liked the dish.  The next thing we ordered was Buffalo Quail Legs which were served with ranch dressing.  I had never eaten quail before, and loved this take on it. They removed all of the bones except one, so it was very easy to dip in the ranch and eat.  The third dish ordered was an order of fried green tomatoes which were also served with ranch.  How can you ever go wrong with fried green tomatoes?  You just can not!  The next dish we shared was a beef tenderloin on top of a crostini topped with a dollop of horseradish and sprinkled with chives.  I personally love the horseradish and beef flavor combination so I really relished in this dish.  The last dish we were served, which was my husband's personal favorite, were the beef tenderloin tips with fried potatoes.  These cuts of beef were quite scrumptious and very tender.

I also enjoyed an alcoholic beverage, but now for the life of me I can not remember what it was called.  (Most likely due to too much food, alcohol, and fun over the weekend)  It was a vodka, orange juice, orange liquor, etc. drink.  It was very yummy.  I made the comment at one point that it was like a, "vacation in a glass".  The waiter over heard me, and really enjoyed my description.  We high-fived over it.  :o) 

Steiner Ranch Steakhouse Website

My time in Austin from a food and non-food related perspective were both awesome.  The energy there was amazing.  Not sure if it was just because I was on a mini-vacation or if it just is like that all the time, but I will take my memories and pour over them with delight for some time in the future.  If you are in Austin I would definitely go to the Woodland.  It is my top pick of a place from the weekend.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed reliving it through writing this blog.  Have a great day!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Potbelly's Sandwich Shop - The Vintage Off Louetta Road

Yesterday I enjoyed a sandwich place I've been really wanting to try for a while now.  It is called Potbelly's! The place is not decorated like a regular sandwich shop.  I thought from the look of the outside that it was more of a sit down restaurant.  They fooled me!  Which is not a bad thing. 

I tried to order a meatball sandwich, and I was informed they were out of meat balls.  I have to admit I do not enjoy when I order something, and they tell me they are out of it.  So I tried to order the Pizza sandwich, and I was informed they were out of marinara sauce.  Again disappointed.  Being my positive self I have to say to me, "Maybe their meatball sub is so good that is why they ran out."  I would prefer to believe this instead of someone did not do their job, and that is why I can not have the sandwich I wanted. 

So after a minute staring up at the menu board I decided to choose the Mediterranean sandwich.  I went ahead and added chicken and tomatoes, and their oil and Italian seasoning.  It came with artichoke hearts, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, and hummus.  I chose the white bread, and it was toasted nicely.  The whole sandwich you could tell was made with good, fresh ingredients. 

For my chips I tried the Spicy Cajun Crawtators.  It was kind of amazing how much they tasted like craw fish.  My husband got the barbeque ranch potato chips which were also very good. 

I have to tell you guys I think I have a new favorite sandwich shop even if they did not have my meatballs. 

Potbelly's Website

Friday, May 24, 2013

Del Pueblo Mexican Restaurant - Grant Rd & Jones Rd

Del Pueblo is my current go to Mexican restaurant.  I have enjoyed several things from there over the years. 

Their margaritas are simply divine, and strong.  After having two you absolutely should not drive.  I will not even talk about how you feel after three.  They do not taste like other margaritas, they are way better.  They go down like water.  I am pretty sure there is no margarita mix involved these are homemade scrumptiousness.  Try one, and you will see.  It is as simple as that. 

Now to the food.  My favorite appetizer is the Stuffed Fried Avocados.  I like mine with beef.  I haven't tried the chicken, but I did have the shrimp one time.  It just did not do it for me.  The first time they brought it out it was cold in the middle, and the cheese was not melted.  The second time they brought it out I just was not feeling the flavor combination.  The beef version however is to die for.  Their fajita beef has a very good limey flavor to it.  These things are very filling.  I suggest if you decide to try one to share with the whole table by cutting it up into pieces and letting everyone get how much they want.  It is not an easily shared thing, but if you want to eat your dinner as well you may want to try.

The queso is really good too.  It has chunks of tomatoes, onions, and peppers in it.  This does not come from a can my friends!

I have ordered many different entrees.  My most common meal that I eat is the Fish Tacos.  I think I am addicted to the chipotle sauce they serve it with.  It is spicy and delicious.  My husband thinks it is crazy how much sauce I put on my tacos.  I pour some on it, and then I also dip it.  It's just that good.  They are served with three tacos heaping with fish.  They are also served with lettuce and tomato.  The only improvement to them I would suggest is to use cabbage instead of the lettuce.  It just gives a fish taco that crunch that becomes craveable.  I usually give my husband one of the three.  Due to the fact that they are very filling, and spicy things usually make you fuller anyway.  Call me crazy but I also take off some of the fish of the two tacos I am going to eat and put the excess fish on my husbands one taco.  I am a big ratio person, and it just seems like too much fish to me.  He really likes this situation. 

One of the other entrees I typically get is called the Botana Platter for one.  It is pure amazingness.  I am a big time variety person, and this dish has it all.  It comes with queso, nachos (the kind individually built on each chip), chicken flautas, and quesadillas.  It just hits the spot when you want a lot of different types of food.  It is actually an appetizer, but I order it as a meal. 

I really could go on and on about the food here, but for now I think this is enough.  Eat there you will agree with me I promise.  :o)  It is a busy place, because it is so good.  So, on Friday and Saturday nights be prepared to be patient.  They do have a nice outside area if the weather permits.  The only thing I do not care for out there is the chairs.  I prefer my back to be well supported and those chairs are like lounging chairs.  So if you are worse than me in your pickiness about back support you may want to choose a table on the inside. 

They do have a bar area where smoking is allowed for my smoking readers, and my anti-smoking readers, lol.  There is Karaoke on some of the nights.  I do not know the schedule, so you will have to research that on your own.  If you are being sat near it I would try to tell the hostess you would like to be a little bit further away, because it can get a tad loud.  I swear I heard the reincarnation of Sinatra singing there Monday night.  He has one of those voices that surprise you when it comes out of the person as well.  Shocked me a bit, but in a good way of course!

Well that's all about my most frequented Mexican restaurant.  I hope you guys give them a chance.  You will not be disappointed!

Del Pueblo's Website

Friday, May 17, 2013

Redfish Seafood Grill - Cypresswood Dr. & SH 249

Redfish is the most unassuming place you've ever seen from the outside.  It looks just like all the other fried seafood restaurants such as Captain Tom's and Blue Water Café, but on the inside it is a much different place.  The atmosphere of Redfish makes you want to dress nice. 

They serve sushi along with their other entrée options.  Personally I have only ever had their sushi.  I did go with a friend one time, and she ordered a seafood pasta dish that had different kinds of seafood in it, and I believe either a white wine sauce or an alfredo sauce.  She did not seem to enjoy it very much.  Everyone's tastes are different though, and that is why even if someone says they do not like something I never pass judgment until I try it myself.  Which on this day I did not.  I did enjoy their sushi, and like always it was very yummy. 

On a separate occasion I had sushi there with another friend of mine for a late birthday dinner.  She introduced me to seaweed salad.  This is not for me folks.  I would not necessarily say that it was bad or that it did not taste good, because my problem lies in the texture.  I ate it all, and I did not have trouble eating it.  I just would not call it my favorite.  When there is a choice for a ginger dressing salad I will choose that all day long.  It may be that my salad preference slot is already filled.  :o) 

The rolls we had on this occasion were the Crunchy Roll, my friend's personal favorite, and the White Tuna Roll.  I remember both being very scrumptious.  I did end up having wine with dinner and their house Riesling was very delightful.  We had the pleasure of meeting the owner.  She is a very nice lady.  I talked to her because this restaurant is one of my now ex-boss' (because of selling the company) favorite restaurants.  I had told him I was going there that evening, and he asked me to say hello for him.  He and his wife are actually painted on the wall upstairs with the many other caricatures of customers.  It if fun to walk around the room and see if you see anyone you know. 

I like Redfish a lot, and will continue to enjoy sushi there. 

The first visit's friend's food.  photo 20111216142259.jpg

And it appears that on the first visit I also got the Crunchy Roll. :o)  photo 20111216142313.jpg I apologize for the quality of the pictures.

Here is the caricature of my boss and his wife.  It really does look a lot like them! 
 photo 20110831171422.jpg

Redfish's Website

Friday, May 10, 2013

WAZA Japanese Cuisine - Houston, TX

WAZA is located at FM 1960 (Cypress Creek Parkway - What ever that is!  :op)  and Cutten Road.  I am very lucky that this place is right by my work.  I was very much disappointed when I went to Tenshi last time and it was not so good.  Now that I have found WAZA I do not see myself heading over to Tenshi again anytime soon! 

When you enter WAZA the atmosphere is very aesthetically pleasing.  You hear the sound of rushing water, and there is always a smiling face greeting you at the door.  I go for lunch when my co-worker is not at work for the day, which is not very often to be honest.  I have had the pleasure of meeting a friend there for lunch as well one time, and we took a table more inside the restaurant.  It was very nice.  I however usually enjoy sitting up at the sushi bar.  The sushi chefs there are nice, experienced, and value the relationship between chef and customer. 

I have tried many things at WAZA, but the current thing I enjoy ordering is their Daily Sushi Special which costs $11.  I get a water, and it comes with a soup or salad so for an on occasion lunch it is not too bad.  The special is all chef's choice (which is why you want to make friends with the sushi chefs!).  It comes with 4 pieces of sushi, one roll, and one hand roll. 

I would like to take the time to impart some knowledge about hand rolls for a moment.  I did not know this, because until someone tells you.. how can you?  Basically for future reference a hand roll is to be eaten similarly to a taco, seaweed wrap and all.  They are very yummy, and to me almost like a present.  You are always pleasantly surprised by what is inside! 

Some of the other rolls I have had at WAZA are Fahrenheit 212, WAZA Maki, and I have had others but they were written on the board and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of them.  I will do better in the future I promise! 

If I were to recommend a sushi place on the North side it would be WAZA all day long.  My brother-in-law just texted me a few weeks ago, and asked me the same question.  WAZA was my first suggestion, and I suggested two others after that.  He ended up at WAZA and texted me later that it was very delicious.  Then he texted, "Who needs yelp when I have you."  Way to make a food blogging girls heart sing brother o' mine!  :o)

I hope you try this place, because I do not want to be writing a super sad blog about how they closed due to lack of business.  So... GO THERE AND EAT ALREADY!  :oD

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P. S. - The WAZA Maki has been my favorite roll thus far.

WAZA's Website

Thursday, April 18, 2013

BreWingz - Spring Cypress & 249

Is the same as the Wings N More that was there before, the only difference is they changed the bleu cheese dressing you dip the wings in.  And now you know!  :o)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Napolis Restaurant & Pizza

Napoli's is located at Jones Road and Grant Road.  It is more on Jones set back a bit from Grant on the northern side. 

It is a family Italian restaurant.  They also have a mighty fine pizza.  What I normally get though is the Manicotti.  The cheese inside this tube of delightful taste is so creamy it melts in your mouth. 

However before you even get to that part you are given the choice of house or caeser salad.  My friends do not choose either of these.  While they may be good you would be doing yourself a disservice.  Ask for the small greek salad instead and prepare to have your taste buds tantalized.  With the capers, feta cheese, calamata olives, homemade greek dressing, and the most amazingly sweet red onions.  Seriously I would eat that onion like an apple, and I am here to tell you friends I do have an onion threshold.  These are unlike any I've had before.  Love the salad, can you tell?  They also serve Italian bread with butter.  I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on the situation.  So good. 

Back to the Manicotti.  It is served bathed in sauce and covered with mozarella cheese.  If you ever see me there and are seating near me forgive the noises you hear coming from my table.  I am in heaven for those six to seven bites.  I always have leftovers, because after bread, salad, and one Manicotti I am completely satisfied. 

I am very lucky as well, because they deliver to my house.  I can not tell you how awesome it is to be able to eat that entree when I do not feel so well. 

I would definitely recommend going to Napoli's and enjoying some down home Italian food. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hanks Cajun Grill

A good friend of mine took me to Hanks Cajun Grill.  She said that it is her favorite place to get crawfish, and not only when in season, but all year long.

It was me, my friend, and my husband and we set off on a dreary Sunday afternoon headed to put in our bellies some delicious cajun food.  Hank's is located off of Highway 6 near Clay Road.

First I ordered a few boudin balls, and they hit the spot for my constant boudin craving.  The breading was tasty; the only thing I felt was lacking was in the spice department.  They were served with ranch a simple sprinkle of cajun seasoning in it would have solved the issue.  The crawfish I ordered tasted so good, but I would have ordered the medium spice, because I do enjoy a bit more burn.  My friend had scared me into ordering the mild, because she said that sometimes the mild is even pretty spicy.  Luckily I got to polish off my husband's rest of his medium spice.  My husband also ordered garlic on his, and I am really thinking that is the way to go.

If you order two pounds you should be good, but if you usually put away a lot of crawfish like my friend she ordered four pounds and ate every last bit of it.  She also ordered the Mardi Gras Oysters and let me have one.  Heaven on a half shell I tell ya!

My husband also ordered some fried crab claws, which were yummy, I would like to tried the grilled version. After we had put back a decent amount of crawfish my husband ordered some fried aligator which was pretty good too.  It kind of reminded me of chicken fried steak to be honest, maybe a bit chewier.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Hank's and will return often.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Zake - Friend's Birthday

I was informed that this restaurant was very beautiful before they started their renovation.  

I have a bad habit judging a restaurant by their bathrooms.  Where I would have to say they could use some attention at Zake.  The women's restaurant actually ran out of toilet paper that evening. 

The music in the restaurant kept turning itself off several times throughout the meal. 

The service was slow, but with a party on Saturday night off of Shepherd I would expect some wait.  Luckily the company was good so the wait wasn't unbearable.

Some of the other guests that sat across from me ordered soup which they were never brought.  I ordered just a shot of hot sake and was brought a whole container of it. 

The two rolls I had were the Shaggy Dog and the 3-1-4 Roll.  The Shaggy dog was just okay, and the crab left something to be desired.  I have had a better quality one at HEB.  The 3-1-4 roll however was quite scrumptious!  It had white fish, shrimp tempura, peppered tuna, and white tuna.  Along with some of the other usual roll ingredients. 

The sake was also good.  Different than others I have had in the past. 

Edamame was ordered for everyone and was a fitting snack. 

The last thing I would like to mention is the fact that the gentleman at the front desk gave off a very strange, almost agitated vibe. 

I do not think I will be returning on my own accord anytime soon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tenshi - Update

A friend and I went back to Tenshi the other day, and I have to tell you my return visit was not so good. 

The biggest affront would have to be the fact that the sushi was not very cold.  Which we all know raises many concerns. 

This time I sat at the bar in front of where the sushi was being made, and soon wish I hadn't.  

The sushi chefs were probably in there early twenties.  One seemed to take his job with the seriousness required but the other was loud and spoke about marijuana and partying with a friend also sitting at the bar.  Another of the patrons was loud in his manner of speaking in hopes to get everyone to look at him. 

I noticed the probable cause of the not to temperature sushi.  The area where the sushi was being kept colds doors were constantly being left wide open.  I do not believe i saw them shut the doors one time. 

I think until I hear by word of mouth that things have changed I will not be returning. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Palate Adventurers: Third Quarter 2011 Gathering - Reef Houston

The idea to go to Reef came from seeing it on the show The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Channel.

And even though it is primarily a seafood restaurant it ended up making the show due to another menu item.

It was the biggest pork chop I've seen in my life!! 

We made our reservations and headed downtown.  Upon arriving we parked at a nearby empty lot and upon walking up discovered a sign that said free valet.  So when we return we will take their polite offer and save us some of the stress of parking in a large city.

Upon entering the hostess left something to be desired when asked simple procedural questions.  We arrived a tad early and stood in the bar area while we waited.  The hostess said that she would let us know when our table was ready.  When I glanced down at the time I noticed it was getting close to being ten minutes past the time we were supposed to be there.  I went over to ask the lady if our table was ready and she looked at me in that way people do to make you feel two inches tall. 

I went back to the bar and gathered the group and we headed to the table.  While walking I took in the atmosphere of Reef.  I felt almost as if I was dining on the bottom of the sea but not in the bright primary colors type of way but in a more of a shimmery mermaid's tail tone.  Our table was along one of the walls and the wall was a work of art in itself.  A beautiful interpretation of waves textured upon it. 

We perused the menu and planned out our unique Reef experiences.  I enjoyed a shrimp shooter at the suggestion of friends who had been there before.  It was not my cup of tea but another one of the adventurers, whose taste it did fit, said that it was very enjoyable.  My perspective was that it was too much tart tomatoness going on for me. 

For my entree I ordered the andouille sausage scallops.  The scallops were very good.  It was as if they took the andouille sausage thread it through a needle then weaved the sausage through the scallopIt was amazing.  The sear on the top and bottom of the scallop was perfect.  The sausage added a little something to the caramelization.  The cook was definitely spot on.  My only complaint would be that the menu did not quite explain my meal enough to me.  I did not know what the sauces were on my plate.

I figured out the orange colored food was perhaps a sweet potato concoction.  After looking at the menu while writing this is, it appears that their food changes, so I am not sure if that is why they cannot explain their food on their menus.

What I have come to discern here is that Reef is either too fancy of a place for me, or they could use some work in helping the diner know what they are eating.  Here is my example of why I feel this way.  I put my scallop, which I had already enjoyed two of them and they tasted wonderful, in a sauce that was provided.  I put it in my mouth, and not a few minutes later my mouth went numb and tingly.  It was not a bad thing necessarily, but when I was not expecting such a change  I was  taken by surprise.  The words 'food allergy' ran through my head.  It went away after a few minutes and I was fine.  Me being a big customer service person I had to ask myself, Is being trendy or saving money worth scaring your customers?

I am sad to say that I cannot report on the potato, salad combo that was served alongside of my scallops, because they just did not stand out to me.  Maybe they were lost next to my suprising experience, and the best piece of pork I have every had in my life.  Which is what my husband ordered.

The Big Pork Chop is a double chop that they lay over a bed of chunky, spicy vegetables.  Please do not quote me on this but I think they brine it, smoke it, bake it, then sear it, and then it magically floats to your table complete with glowing light and heavenly music because it is that good .  I never knew that so much love could go into a piece of meat,  I only received a few bites of the thing.  He did share with everyone to make sure they all got a taste of that awesome hunk of pork.  Those few bites I did have were tender and the juice that was pouring out of it had the most flavorful taste.  I felt you could taste all the time that went into it.  It vaguely reminded me of the way when you fry a turkey and it holds all of its own juices inside of it.  Since he was the one who ordered it I felt compelled to tell you that my husband says that it was executed perfectly, and it could not have been better.  The only thing left to say about this absolute pork dream is, Go get this pork chop.

The coffee we were served was a tad bit on the strong side for me, but for someone else's taste it might have been on point.  It did not seem as if it was burnt or old, it was just too bitter for my enjoyment.

The desert I chose was a chocolate lover's dream.  It had so many different layers of chocolatey goodness I cannot remember them.  It was a cylinder of 2 to 2 1/2 inches high and about three inches across.  On the top it had a dollop of chocolate whip cream with a piece of a chocolate tuile crowning it.  It also was accompanied by a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream resting upon a generous pile of crushed up cookie or crust of some sort. 

I also had a bit of one of the cheese cakes that were ordered, and it was so silky and smooth.  I couldn't complain one bit about the quality of the dessert.  I may order that next time when we go back.


I would return time and again for that pork chop I have to tell you!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Roving Eater's Report: Barney's Country Store - Huntsville, TX

My husband and I went off roading with his father and his girlfriend this weekend for a late Father's Day celebration.  We had a wonderful time and had the best hamburger at a place called Barney's Country store. 

This place is located at the intersection of FM 1696 and Highway 75.  If you don't see it then go a little more south and it will be on your left in a red steel building because FM 1696 does a jog. 

This hamburger is just plain done right.  The bun is a sweet Hawaiian extra large roll.  The patties are 3/4lb and seasoned to perfection.  When they throw a row of burgers on the grill the garlic fills the air.  The vegetables were fresh and crisp.

We went and bought two to share with our guys for a type of brunch, and ended up going back and having our own for dinner.  (My father-in-law and his girlfriend did share one again.)  

They were so good we could not get through eating them without saying so for at least ten times.  They even warranted a few comments after they were gone

The atmosphere is definitely country store.  If you happen to find yourself in Huntsville it would be worth a stop.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Guest Post: Rachel - The Whispering Pines Inn - Norman, Oklahoma

Last week my husband had a conference in Oklahoma City. My parents live about 30 minutes south of there in Norman, so they watched our baby one evening while he and I went to dinner for an early anniversary date. At the recommendation of my dad we went to Whispering Pines Inn. It's a bed and breakfast place in the country that does weddings and serves dinner by reservation only.

The evening was exquisite. You drive up a dirt road to an adorable two-story house with a wrap around porch, nestled among trees. The dining area was very intimate, only holding about 10 tables spread among three rooms with open doorways. My husband & I were the only ones in our "room", another party was having a birthday dinner in the back. It was relaxing and romantic, the service was perfect. It was so great to go with him because we rarely eat out (mostly because of cost and sitting down to enjoy a dinner is almost impossible with a baby) and this was our first date since our baby's birth 10 months ago.

I had the soup of the day, a sherry mushroom soup with brie. It was served with homemade house rolls and a herb butter. My husband ordered the sweet corn and crab bisque. Both were very good. A citrus sorbet palate cleanser was served before our entrees.

For dinner I chose the night's special: lobster tail sauteed with wild mushrooms and tomatoes in a tarragon cream sauce that was so rich and creamy and buttery and delightful. I think I could have just eaten a bowl of the sauce...well, the lobster tail was wonderful too. My husband had a new york strip steak that was perfection. Both of our entrees were served with fancy scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and zucchini. Since we were celebrating our anniversary, we received a complimentary dessert. We shared the creme brulee, which was bigger than expected and the best way to end our dinner.

Ahh...that tarragon cream sauce, I could eat more right now.

We don't eat at fancy places like that, so it was a real treat. And so delicious. If you are ever in Oklahoma and want a fancy dinner, I would highly recommend Whispering Pines.

The Whispering Pines Inn Website