LocalEats featured blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Place Report: Tenshi Sushi & Japanese Noodle

My favorite sushi experience was not my first sushi experience. Unfortunately for years my only brush with sushi was at Chinese buffets. I know what you are thinking ewwwww gross!! But please trust in my ability to not eat sushi that was disgusting. I only ate it at two or three places that I felt safe at, but I still didn't understand the difference of eating at a true sushi restaurant.

Knowing that my husband had no interest in trying sushi I went ahead and planned my birthday party at a sushi place! I know I'm a smart cookie aren't I? :o) I was just about to do or had just done a Palate Adventurers get together and I just didn't feel up to driving half way across the city for my birthday. I googled the top ten sushi restaurants and Tenshi was the only one on the north side. It is located near the intersection of Jones & Fallbrook on Jones Road.

I am going to admit to you that I was really nervous about trying raw fish for the first time. At the buffets where I felt comfortable enough to eat the sushi I still played it rather safe and did not eat anything I couldn't identify and stuck to the safer rolls such as the California Roll. After we had been seated my worry about the raw fish having a texture that I couldn't handle grew. I was making comments here and there mostly half under my breath of my worry. I finally vented my fears to my fifteen year old niece who is wise beyond her years and this is how the conversation that made my night progressed: Her: "Do you like boiled peanuts? Me: "No!" Her: "Exactly! If they were crunchy; everyone would like them. It is a texture issue. Get over it!" And folks that is just what I did.

I ended up ordering the chef's special which included a California Roll, two sushi's (raw fish on top of sticky white rice) including salmon and tuna, and two sashimi's (just plain raw fish) which was fatty tuna and yellow fin tuna. I have to say my favorite was the yellow fin tuna which was served with tiny slices of lemon that took the freshness to an even new level.

Speaking about the freshness I had mentioned before not realizing the difference between the buffet sushi and the restaurant sushi. The freshness is it. That is the difference. I have mentioned before the taste of the steam of Jason's Deli's steamed veggies. The freshness of sushi is the same; almost indescribable. The best way I can try to explain it would be to say it is literally the freshest tasting food you've ever tasted in your life. Freshness to the umpteen power!

I was also able to enjoy a friends Fried Shrimp Roll which I feel has to be American influence on sushi. We sure do like to fry things. I have to say it sure was delicious. I am sure I tried a few other's rolls, but after a certain point of everyone passing you a sample of their roll they ordered the names become fuzzy. Especially being my first time enjoying real sushi and as well being the birthday girl everyone wanted me to try everything. Which I happily obliged.

As far as beverages go I of course had to do a little Sake sipping. I would describe Sake as stronger, better tasting Vodka. I only had one tiny little cup, because if you are not careful you could find yourself very inebriated, very fast.

Tenshi happens to be a smaller restaurant. It is tucked onto the end of a small strip center. It is a very beautiful and comfortable place. They have two rooms enclosed by traditional Japanese doors you can reserve if you so choose, but me personally I always find myself wanting to be on the main floor. It makes the atmosphere of the meal for me. With my party of fifteen to twenty people we filled almost half of the restaurant, and again even though the place was on the smaller side I never felt cramped.

I tried my hardest to eat my food with the chopsticks, and every bit of me did not want to have to ask for a fork. I eventually however gave in. I have eaten sushi a few times with chopsticks since my birthday and have acquired better skill. There was just no sense at the time getting frustrated on my birthday because of two silly wooden sticks. Just as a credit to myself just the other day I had eaten almost an entire ginger salad with chopsticks alone! It was difficult, but definitely good practice.

One other thing I wanted to speak with y'all about is the to dip or not to dip question. Everyone obviously has their own palate. So when I was introduced to sushi the first time I was instructed on what to make to dip my sushi in. What I have always done is to gather about three or four pieces of ginger and place them in my sauce tray. Then I take a bee bee size of wasabi and set it on the ginger. Next I take the soy and pour a lake for the ginger and wasabi to live in. I commence mixing the things together really just to dissolve the wasabi into the soy. That is my happy mixture. I love salt therefore I love soy. I also love ginger especially as a dressing on a salad. Which I did order and enjoy.

So that evening I was told that the ginger is supposed to be used as a palate cleanser in between bites. Call me crazy and set in my ways, but I think I will be sticking to the way I've always done it. To each their own I say! One other way to eat the sushi is to not dip at all which is what I watched my niece mostly do. I did try it and the sushi doesn't necessarily need to be dipped, but like I said before I sure do like that salty, gingery, clean your sinsus' out hotness. Now I find myself doing both. Some rolls just don't pair well with my mixture and that's okay. I just try to stay open even if I am set with certain ways. I may really enjoy that, but it also won't stop me from having a few bites without.

So I have been saving the best part for last. My niece being an adventurous eater (a girl after my own heart) ordered a bite (I'm not sure what else to call it; it wasn't a whole roll) which consisted of raw fish eggs wrapped in sea weed topped with a raw quail egg. We all stared as it was brought to her, and she looked a little embarrassed with all eyes on her. I am sure she will soon learn if she has not already if you are the brave enough one to try something crazy you are most likely going to get everyone's full attention. As she placed it in her mouth and got the sushi puffy cheeks she just nodded at the fact that it was yummy and not scary or disgusting at all. What a brave one she is.

I hope you have enjoyed me sharing my birthday dinning experience with you as much as I have!  Happy Reading & Eating!      <3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Place Report - RA Sushi

I found myself at RA Sushi by way of a friend's birthday party. Upon arriving with my mother (and without my poor husband; him not wishing to partake in sushi enjoyment) we parked easily by the grace of what only could be the parking gods themselves. First spot, first row. That just never happens.

RA Sushi is on the second floor of a high end shopping complex. When you walk through the front door you are greeted by a two story entry room leading you to two choices. Hanging in the large open space is one of the most beautiful chandeliers I've ever seen. It is up to you to decide if you are feeling up to the stairs or prefer a leisure ride up the elevator. As you exit the elevator you are welcomed immediately to your right by the hostess. If choose to take the stairs she is on your left as you ascend to the top. The two meet across from each other.

This next part I am about to inform you of is one you should pay close attention to if you may be planning a get together at RA anytime in the near future. The bar area at RA is first come first serve and in the dining room side reservations are needed. As well your party cannot be seated unless eighty percent are present. We had reservations in the dinning side, but ended up being fine in the bar area and enjoyed our meal on that side.

I was able to try a friend's appetizer which was the "RA"ckin' Shrimp and also the Pineapple Cheese Wontons.  The shrimp were spicy and pared well with the sauce provided which was a ginger teriyaki sauce.  As well the pineapple wontons were kicked up a notch with the addition of the roasted pineapple sauce.  It was a good variation on your typical crab rangoon.   

For my meal I ordered the Beef Tataki Roll and the Ultimate Shrimp Tempura Roll. The beef roll was so scrumptious. It came with a sauce that was both a tad sweet with citrus notes and savory like the creamier sauce you get during an hibachi grill dinner. On the menu the roll is described as having artichoke, asparagus, roasted red pepper, and avacado rolled and topped with seared beef; served with a creamy wasabi sauce and drizzled with black pepper soy.  It was truly amazing. 

The birthday girl also ordered this, and was slightly worried about the fact they ask you if you care about eating raw beef.  When the roll came out it ended up being no big deal at all.  I would not even refer to the doneness of the beef anywhere near medium rare.  At most it was medium to medium well. 

As far as dessert is concerned I would have to have you steer away from poor RA with me for a moment. The birthday girl's boyfriend had snuck in a few cupcakes from a local bakery called What's Up Cupcake.  I have to tell you I've never had a softer cupcake in my life. It melted in my mouth.  Sad to say, but I am not able to provide you with the type of cupcake I enjoyed.  I do however have the friend that ordered these cupcakes looking into the matter, and hopefully I may be able to let you know exactly which cupcake I enjoyed.  See below for any additional comments to be added at a later date.  So even though my dessert was amazing I cannot contribute that to RA.

However a few more perspectives I can offer are as follows: My mom enjoyed a Nutty Chicken Salad. It was big enough for two people to share, and she said that it was very good.  I also ordered an alcoholic beverage with my dinner which was a vodka cranberry or a Cape Cod. I happened to take a big swig of my drink before I actually got a good look at it. It was barely colored at all. It was barely even pink let alone red by any means. I asked the waitress for a glass of cranberry on the side and did not have to order any additional drinks that evening.

My final thoughts are that this beautiful restaurant has some amazing sushi, and two different types of atmospheres to enjoy it in. The restaurant side seems to have a more intimate feel while in the bar area you could easily mistake yourself in a club. With the windows sometimes open to the city beyond it is a helluva place to sit eat some of the freshest sushi and enjoy a drink or two. I would definitely venture down to RA Sushi again.

Beef Tataki Roll

RA Sushi Website

What's Up Cupcake Website

Monday, October 24, 2011

Usual Spots Report - Locatelli's Pizza

Locatelli’s Pizza is a pick up and dine in only pizza shop.  The thing that makes you want to choose them over their delivery brethren is the fact that they use only the freshest ingredients.  As well as the fact that they have a perfect crust living happily between a hand tossed and a thin. 

The restaurant is located in that same gem of a shopping center as Mezzanote Ristorante at Louetta and Grant road. 

Now let’s get back to those ingredients.  My husband never fails to get heart burn on pizza night.  We typically order our pizza light sauce to lessen the burn for him later.  With Locatelli’s we have found that on those nights when we forget to say our special request; my husband has admitted theirs does not create the furnace inside him as bad as the others tend to. 

They also support the local community by hiring high school kids. 

I have ordered their salads and was not disappointed in their continued quality and freshness of their ingredients. 

The one area that I personally cannot give the highest marks would be in the dessert department.  I applaud their efforts to bring some unique desserts, but with poor execution no idea is going to be a great one.  The ones that I have tried include their Stick in the Mud, S.O.S., and their Powdered Pizza Skin.  I have always taken these back to my home to enjoy, so I do not know if they may be better had in the restaurant. 

Overall I immensely enjoy Locatelli’s Pizza, and am very glad my boss recommended them when I moved into the area. 

Locatelli's Pizza's Website 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Place Report - Mezzanotte Ristorante

First of all I would like to inform y'all that I am a pretty easy woman to please.  Take me to a restaurant to enjoy a meal and you have just made me the happiest woman on the planet.  Especially if it is a place I have not been to before. 

So for our six year get together anniversary my husband took me to a place I've been asking to go for a while now.  Mezzanotte Ristorante might as well be right in my back yard.  It is located at Louetta Road & Grant Road nestled in the middle of a "V" shaped shopping center.  I saw it while picking up a pizza at Locatelli's (Which I will blog about at a later date..).  For some reason I really like the location of this restaurant.  I am being honest when I say I am not really sure why.  It feels like one of those tucked away gems that no one knows about. 

Upon entering the restaurant my first observation is that the establishment is on the smaller side, but gives off a more of a comfortable than a cramped feel.  We were sat at one of those dreadful two person tables.  (See Melting Pot Blog for my opinion on this matter.)  But again to be honest the table was big enough so it was not as bad as the last place we were sat at a two person table. 

Upon looking over the menu not very many things jumped out and bit me.  The appetizer menu seemed to draw my eye back to it several times though.  I ended up not getting an appetizer for my meal; instead I decided to be a bit daring.  Well as daring as trying something you have had before in a different way can be. 

Before we get to that though; we did order an appetizer.  We ordered the Mozzarella En Carrozza from the weekly special menu.  The menu informed us that it is a southern Italy specialty consisting of mozzarella di bufala delicately flash fried served with a Tarantina sauce which is made with garlic, capers, anchovies, and sun-dried tomatoes.  I have to say that this sauce was the most delectible sauce I've ever had.  It was light and flavorful.  They had given us bread to dip in some herbs encompassed in oil, and I dipped the bread in the sauce after we had eaten the fried cheese before they could whisk the plate away. 

My husband had ordered this pretty quickly and regretted not consulting me more before placing the order, but I reassured him that I was very pleased with his selection.  First I love to order off of weekly special menu's because what you order may not be there the next time you come so you can try new and different things, and again that sauce was just phenomenal. 

For my entree I ordered the Ossobuco which on the menu is described as a sumptuous veal shank braised in red wine, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.  Served with saffron risotto.  I say that I was being bold because I've never had veal before.  On the other hand Veal is just baby cow; which I have had plenty of beef in my lifetime, so it was like trying something new with a safety net below.  The veal was very rich and left with you a feeling of home.  I said to my husband, "This tastes like home, not my home, but someone else's home." 

I do not believe that I have ever had the seasoning saffron before either.  Trying the risotto by itself it did not really send me over the moon with flavor, but when you took a bit of the risotto and pared it with the meat you find yourself in a whole new world.  This is the ultimate man meal to me.  It is not meat and potatoes, but it is a meat and a starch which basically does the trick to be able to qualify as a man meal in my mind. 

My husband ordered the grilled filet mignon with alfredo noodles, and he said that it was very good. 

We were going to order a dessert to share, but could not make up our minds which one to choose , so we ordered the tiramisu and the crème brûlée.  Both were delightful.  The tiramisu hit levels of yumminess (This word is not in the dictionary, and should be!) I hadn't had with a tiramisu before.  Upon taking a bite of the tiramisu the coffee would flow out of it like a wave of flavor saying "..hello you...now love me...".  The sugar on the top of the crème brûlée was slightly darker than I'm used to, but while enjoying it, it reminded me of a roasted marshmallow over a camp fire.  If it was not right it might be the way to go in the future. 

I have started a new tradition at the end of larger meals I like to enjoy a cup of coffee.  It helps the digestion process, and I just plain love me some coffee!  My husband joined me in my new after-meal ritual, and he as well said he would probably do this from now on.  We felt a little like an older couple.  We now drink coffee after dinner. 

A wonderful lady stopped by our table near the end of our meal and checked on our experience.  We told her we enjoyed it immensely.  She let us know that they have wine tastings and something called "Tapas Night".  She explained that on those nights they have appetizer size food for only $5 each.  I thought this is a wonderful idea.  You get to eat multiple portions of all those appetizers as your meal that had caught my eye when ordering earlier.  I am looking forward to catching a Tapas night in the near future.  

(Please Note:  I tried really hard to take a picture of my food when I received it, but regretfully I never remember.  So here is one about three or four bites in. - Ossobuco)

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Place Report - The Bake Shoppe

My boss has been going to this place for years and had talked about it a lot.  Also my co-worker went there one time with our boss and she said it was good as well.  Well I have some bad news for you folks you missed it, and so did I.  The people who had owned it for fourteen years sold in 2009 to a new owner.

Not knowing this I finally went there the other night, because I was just bored of the same old fast food, and trying to find something on the healthier side to eat.  I walked in and the decor is not exactly what I was expecting... I felt like I had walked into a little girl fashion boutique.  Trust me I feel horrible about the things that I'm going to tell you here, because I genuinely want every restaurant I eat at to have phenomenal food, but that is not always the case. 

I ordered food to go for my husband and I.  For him I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, and for myself the Chef Salad.  When I got home and opened my salad not only did some of the lettuce have black edges on it some pieces also had that slimy texture to it that informs you that you should not eat it or you will be having a bad salad experience.  (I've had a bad salad once, and hope I never have to go through that again.)  The meat they included was very good, and I thought I was supposed to get some boiled egg, but strangely it was missing.  I went through the salad and out of a whole to go box stuffed with salad I only had the amount that would be two of my fists together.  I paid just under ten dollars for this salad.  You can imagine my disappointment. 

As far as my husband's food he said that the pulled pork did not blow him away, but the bread was good.  His little salad was as pitiful as mine was, and he was downtrodden that they had set his cookie on top of the salad with no protection that it became soggy and inedible. 

I would have to say from this visit I will not be stopping into The Bake Shoppe again anytime soon.  The only thing I can say in their defense would be that they seem to specialize more in casserole dishes, alas that is not what we ordered.

The Bake Shoppe's Website

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Usual Spots Report - Connie's Frozen Custard

Now I have eaten at this place many, many times...  because it is just THAT good!!  Imagine Blue Bell, which we all know and love, take it and make it ten times creamier, and you will have an inkling about how good their ice cream is.  I don't know whether or not to call it frozen custard or ice cream...  The video on their website says premium ice cream while of course the name is Connie's Frozen Custard.  Whatever it is my friends if you have not tried it I highly recommend it. 

My father used to always make a detour on the way back from whatever we were doing to go to the old fashioned ice cream stands.  The one's that actually look like upside down ice cream cones.  So this place already has a special place in my heart, because I know my dad would have loved it. 

They make their custard fresh every hour, and it is gluten free.  My two favorite things to get there, and it just depends on my mood which one I decide upon.  Is the Homemade Brownie Sundae, which has the most delectable, warm brownie you've ever tasted.  And my other choice is the Choc-O-- Rocko Specialty Concrete which is their version of rocky road. 

This wonderful sweet treat facility is located at Cypress North Houston and Jones Road, a little past Cypress North Houston if you are on Jones Road heading towards Grant on the left side just past the WellsFargo building. 

It is so worth your time I promise!~

Connie's Frozen Custard Website

Friday, June 10, 2011

Usual Spots Report - Cafe Express

First of all I wanted to share with you that I'm a sucker for 'buy one, get one free' coupons.  So when I received one in the mail for Cafe Express' new breakfast sandwiches I had to go. 

I ordered the Cafe Croissant which has scrambled eggs, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil on a croissant.  I wanted to devour this sandwich as soon as I got in the truck because the smell permeated out and into my little nose making my stomach antsy. 

My co-worker was the person to benefit from this coupon and she ordered the Breakfast BLT.  She said that is was very good. 

My croissant was so super extra yummy, and yes that is the best way to describe it.  It was warm and the goat cheese went well with the roasted tomatoes and basil.  Each time you hit a tomato it would explode with such a robust flavor in your mouth it was heaven.  There might have been some moaning and eye rolling with this meal.  It really was that good. 

I would definitely recommend Cafe Express' breakfast.  They really do have such good food there.  The pricing is a little on the expensive side, but the quality of food you get it is definitely worth it. 

Cafe Express' Website

Monday, June 6, 2011

Palate Adventurers - Second Quarter, 2011 - Angus Grill Brazilian Steakhouse

(DISCLAIMER: I would like to apologize ahead of time, because I have only been to one other Brazilian steakhouse and it will be hard for me not to compare the two.)

As far as the outside appearance goes; when you are on the way to Angus Grill the word that you would be most looking for is Churrascaria. It is the biggest word both on the building and on the sign out front. This made it slightly difficult to locate for a few of our attendees.

The atmosphere of Angus Grill felt a bit more intimate to me than Fogo De Chao. As we were seated at our table we waited for a while before a lady came up to us and asked us if we knew how the process worked. I was closest to her so I just asked her to go ahead and let us know just in case someone did not. She said simply while pointing in the direction of the salad bar, "The salad bar is over there, and you can help yourself. The card in front of you, flip to green if you want meat, and flip to red if you do not."

After she finished our party had finished arriving, and we all headed over to the salad bar. The salad bar at Angus Grill is exactly that a salad bar alone. You make a salad. At Fogo De Chao it is more than that. There are so many different options of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and salmon. As well instead of putting the sides they offer you on the table for you to enjoy, at Angus they are located in a hot serving container in the salad bar area. I wished that the sides were a bit fresher and hotter.

When we were ready for meat they put our meat on our plates from the salad bar, and I quickly asked for a fresh plate. I will have to note that the staff at Angus Grill is very nice and attentive they just do not have the force that Fogo has. That being said the wait between meats, refills, and fresh plates were a little greater.

At first we were having a problem of the Gaucho (Brazilian Cowboy) starting on one side of the table with a particular type of meat and before he could get over to the other side of the table he had to go back to the kitchen because he had ran out of meat. The good thing was that they started to realize this and brought out more meat at one time, and alternated where at the table they started.

They did bring to the table the cheese bread which was piping hot and so good. Again comparatively I felt like the cheese bread at Anugs was more "homemade". It felt like the ones at Fogo could have been made by a machine. Now it's time to talk about the star of the show at any Churrascaria, the meat!!

My favorites were the garlic beef, the baby beef, the house top sirloin, the grilled pineapple (I know, I know it's not meat, just roll with it.. :o)  ), and the pork ribs. I can't even begin to tell you how good the flavor was on those pork ribs. The ribs, for me, took first place as far as this meal was concerned.

The grilled pineapple was tremendously good as well. The cinnamon they put on the outside was not overpowering and complimented the tartness of the pineapple perfectly. I have to say that in this department Angus Grill totally takes it for me, because I just have never been a cooked banana person. The texture I just can not do. So having another option of a desert fruit was fantastic.

When it comes to the meat I felt that Fogo may have had a higher quality meat, but Angus Grill blew them out of the water with the flavor and spices. Everything was very juicy and delectable. The chicken was some of the most tender I've had in quite some time.

As well, yet again, I fell in love with their house top sirloin. The meat to fat ratio on that thing is amazing. I tend to shy away from fattier pieces of meat strictly for textural reasons, but when you have just that little ring around the outside it tends to have more of a crunch to it, and the flavor that bursts out of that fat is simply like no other. I understand why some people just can not understand how I could not get past the texture when the flavor that is contained inside is pretty much mind blowing.

I almost forgot to mention the butter beef; two words that should never be torn apart. The meat literally melted in your mouth. Definitely up there with the other favorites I've already listed. The baby beef is I'm sure veal, and the flavor really didn't blow me away it was more the tenderness of the meat that made me respect it. I've never had veal before, but I can say my interest in trying this meat at a place that really knows it well has risen. 

Overall I believe we all had a really great time with very few complaints to my knowledge.  Like I had said before the attentiveness that you get at Fogo isn't quite as high at Angus Grill, but for the price difference it is so worth it.  My husband and I paid half the amount that we had paid at our last trip to Fogo.  So for half the pricing and much better flavor I don't think I need my glass refilled every time I take a sip from it.

Angus Grill Brazilian Steakhouse Website

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Place Report - Tombolini's Worlds Greatest Meatballs

As you may or may not know my husband and I recently bought a house off of Louetta Road. For a little while now we had been saying that we were going to try this little place one light up from our street, and before we could we realized that the place had been closed.

The spa right next door is where I get my eyebrows done, and the Vietnamese lady that does nails there told me that the food at that place hadn't been good for a while. She also mentioned that there were already new owners and they had said their food would be better.

Well my friends obviously I cannot compare Tombolini's to what was there before, but I can tell you that it was the best meatball I have ever eaten in my life! Upon entering you are welcomed by bright red and yellow fluid and current shapes. The menu is very basic, which I like because it's really hard to mess up!

You pick your type of meatball of which they have 8 different ones to choose from. Then you choose how you would like to eat your meatballs. Whether it be by themselves or perhaps on pasta or your third choice on a sandwich. And of course you have your choice of what type of pasta or what type of bread. That's it! Simple and delicious.

The one thing I would say that they could improve upon would be the staff. I was there on a Sunday so I'm sure there might be a bit better suited staff on the busier days, but the gentleman that helped us was a little over friendly. Sometimes, especially when food is really tasty, you would like it to be just you and your food with no interruptions. However they were friendly and attentive so at least they were not rude. I did happen to see one of the chefs with a drink drinking in front of customer view which is a no no, but it didn't seem to be unsanitary.

I ordered the Italian meatballs with spaghetti and the sauce that starts with a "V". I know I'm slipping here people, but they don't have a website and I forgot to grab a Togo menu. :o( I apologize. Mine was very delicious.

I also had to try a bite of Greg's sandwich. He got the Texas meatballs with the sauce that would be a marinara and barbeque sauce. It was so good. The meatball had brisket in it! Yummy! I would definitely eat there again!! :o)

05/27/11 - Update!!  They now have a website!!  So I can fill in some holes!  So I had the Italiano meatballs with the Arrabiata sauce over spaghetti, and my husband had The Texan meatballs with the Texas Rossa sauce on ciabatta bread.  He did say later however he wished he would have paid more attention to his bread choices.  He said it would have been better on the Italian baguette.

Tombolini's Website

Friday, May 6, 2011

Usual Spots Report - Rudy's Grill & Cantina - (Revised to Include: Cinco de Mayo Fiasco)

Wherever my husband and I have lived we've always had our Go To Mexican Restaurant (As all Texans should!). They typically are of the whole in the wall variety with not a lot of people at any given time (This is why Del Pueblo isn't our Go To place, because it's always PACKED!!, even though they really do have awesome food). Well our current Go To place is called Rudy's Grill & Cantina and it is located at Lakewood Forest Drive and Grant Road.

Why am I telling all of you this? The reason is because I wanted to share my secret. My secret is that they have the BEST chicken flautas I have ever had in my life!! I typically order something different every time I go to one of our usual restaurants, but I really can't bring myself to order anything else when we go there. As well I really crave these from time to time. 

From what I can tell they seem to stew the chicken in a tomato based broth with various vegetables in it; such as carrots and onions.  Then they roll it in a corn tortilla and fry it.  I've been to some places where their flautas taste too much like chicken..  I don't know how else to describe it than that.  But seriously folks try their flautas they are so good.

***Additional Note:  On Cinco de Mayo of 2011 we went up to Rudy's to enjoy dinner and some margaritas.  A friend of ours joined us for dinner.  As you may know I've been trying to eat healthier lately, so I have very specific things I do to attempt... yes attempt to make Mexican food not so bad.  I had entered the dinner I had planned to have on my sparkpeople.com website and was sent to enjoy a good dinner and one jumbo lime margarita on the rocks with salt. 

Before even finishing the first margarita I picked up this little additional menu they had on the table a smaller one just including various drinks, appetizers, and deserts.  I found that they had a sugar free margarita.  So enthused, I jumped on my smart phone and realized that this margarita should have only been in the ballpark of 100 calories vs. the 240 for its brother I was currently consuming.  So.. I made an executive decision to forgo my '100 calorie just before bed' snack to have just one more margarita.  Well after the second one I was feeling a little frisky and ordered just one more.  As soon as they brought it I knew I would have problems finishing the dang thing, and regretted my decision, but oh well... they had already taken the trouble to bring it to me. 

I had only finished about 1/4 of it when we had already finished the meal, and the checks were brought to us.  Between my husband and I we had 6 margaritas I had 2 sugar free and 1 regular, and he had 3 regular.  There were a total of 9 margaritas on our bill.  With a margarita already on the bill and removed from the bill (that making 10).  Our bill at this time was some where around $82. 

Our friend that met us and liked the idea of the sugar free mix was charged for her food and one margarita alone.  So we told our waiter that we were being grossly overcharged for our margaritas, and a lady stopped by our table to explain the reasoning why it was correct.  She explained that the sugar free margarita doesn't normally come in the jumbo size so she added double the alcohol.  Even if they are saying that there were two each for my sugar free ones there was still 1 margarita over on the count.  There should have been 8 total if that was the case. 

My argument to her was that I didn't order the sugar free in a jumbo I ordered what I saw on the menu.  If there was a discrepancy in price between what I pointed at on the menu when I ordered it to what the waiter brought me I feel it should have been explained to me so I could make a decision whether I wanted the jumbo still.  Like I said above I am watching my calories.  This lady just told me not only are they messing with my pocketbook, but now you are also messing up my diet for the day. 

I should have just continued to have the regular margarita, because with the double shots of alcohol they were pretty damn close in calories.  At this time our bill had been reduced down from the $82 to about $75.  As well the lady had brought our friend another receipt now charging her for her food and two margaritas.  After she had already sent her card off with the waiter to pay for the first total she was given. 

We did not seem to be getting anywhere with the girl so I asked to speak to the owner.  (Side Note:  On a previous adventure to Rudy's with friends we witnessed the owner being very rude to one of his waiters.  I cannot remember exactly what transpired, but what sticks in my head is the reaction of one of our friends.  The fact that she just couldn't believe how much of an ***hole the owner was being.)  As the owner approaches I can already see on his face that snarled look people get when they are already ready to put up their dukes for verbal assault.

My husband was in the middle of telling the owner how we had already been mischarged for the amount of margaritas, and the girl piped in and said no sir I explained to you about why you had so many margaritas on your bill, and he said if that is true why had he already seen a reduction in the bill when she came back the first time.  After we explained to him the situation, and all he had to say was "Oh so now you have drank this alcohol and you don't want to pay for it!!".  I being 2 1/2 margaritas in let the tequila talk and told that man that I would pay for my stuff, but I do not appreciate being left in the dark about what exactly I was getting and what I would be paying for. 

I then leaned forward and took a good hard swig on my current margarita, because if I'm going to pay almost $15 for that sucker I was going to get my fill of it.  The margarita lowered from about 3/4 full to about 1/2.  This is when he preceded to tell me ok he would comp one, and reached across the table and snatched my margarita from me.  My inner ghetto came out and was like "Oh no he didn't!!!".  We said just get us our bill.  We come here a lot and we are never coming here again.  The owner had the audacity to say that he has never seen us before.  I told him really because I have even spoken with you a few times.   After he stormed away and we signed our bill the girl came over and tried to smooth things over further, but it was too late. 

I'm not someone who would order food and drink and not pay for it.  For him to automatically assume that we were people like that just shows that he really doesn't care about his customers.  If he knew how much we eat in his restaurant would he have treated us differently... He should treat all of his customers like they should be treated, because Mexican restaurants are a dime a dozen and it is very easy for people to choose somewhere else to eat.  I'm not saying that my once a week dinner being gone is going to cause him to close his doors, but you piss off enough people and soon it will.  Then the word will spread just like it is being spread with this blog, and no matter how good your food is if your customer's have an issue and you instantly treat them like crap they aren't going to want to come back to your establishment.

As well just to prove that I wasn't just being a drunken stupid head I actually did something very nice that evening.  At one point I had headed to the bathroom, and this lady and I were waiting in line behind a slew of younger girls.  The lady in front of me was an older lady that appeared to be a little impatient.  It was her turn to go into the stall, and shortly after my turn.  When I came out I instantly felt bad for the lady, because she made the comment "I didn't make it".  My own mother having problems with these issues I offered to walk behind the lady to her table so it wouldn't be that obvious she had had an accident.  She was very appreciative and thanked me profusely.  Her table ended up being very close to mine.  She said they had driven two hours to eat at this restaurant for a birthday party.  I left her at her table and returned to my own.

And to this day I haven't been back there.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Place Report - Sassafras Seafood Kitchen

I finally made my way over to a place a friend has been telling me about for a while now.  It's called Sassafras Seafood Kitchen at Jones Rd. & Cypress N. Houston Dr.. 

When you walk in it is set up like a McAllister’s; the tables are on either side of the restaurant and the walkway down the middle leads you up to the counter.  It didn't take me long to decide exactly what I wanted, because I love Cajun food and I know where my niche is. 

A lot of people love them some gumbo, and I've always thought it was too wet of a dish for me.  Other people enjoy jambalaya, and in my opinion it is just too dry.  So where do I fall ladies and gentlemen?!?!  That's right I'm an etouffee girl!~ 

I ordered some Boudin Balls (personal favorite) as an appetizer and Crawfish Etouffee as my lunch entree.  I thought it was kind of cool that they had two sizes to choose from, but there would be no way I would be able to finish the larger portion(I had leftovers of the smaller portion!!).  We took our number, made our drinks at the drink station, and seated ourselves at a booth. 

It wasn't too long maybe about five to ten minutes and our food started to arrive.  I would have liked a little bit more time between my balls and my entree, but oh well.  The boudin balls come with about six or eight balls sat upon a large pile of french fries served with ketchup and my favorite Cajun mustard.  The only way I can explain Cajun mustard would be to say that spicy deli mustard and honey mustard came together and decided to have a family.  Their child would be Cajun mustard.  You can see the mustard seeds, but you can really taste the sweetness in the honey.  The boudin balls were very tasty.  I enjoyed the flavor of the boudin and of the breading. 

The star of this show had to be the Crawfish Etouffee.  As soon as she set the plate down I made a few mental notes to myself.  Color check: good.  Bread to eat it with: Check.  Enough Rice:  Check.  We are good to go.  Then I commenced my normal routine.  I mix the sauce with the rice not entirely, but little by little till I get my perfect consistency.  I may have dirty rice left over, but that's okay with me.  I ate the first few bites on the bread, and very shortly realized that it wasn't going to carry me through the whole meal.  **Side Note:  I'm one of those people that the etouffee (soups, chili’s, gumbos, etc.) has to be eaten on either toasted bread or crackers... Not one bite may pass these lips without a double starch situation going on.  I went up to the counter to rectify the situation, and those good Cajun people had a stack of crackers right by the register.  Bless you Cajun people. 

The etouffee was so good!  It was better than any of the etouffees I have had in a while.  I used to eat it at Joe's Crab Shack and then they really kind of took it away from me.  Instead of having it on the menu by itself, they made it a Crawfish pair with both etouffee and fried crawfish.  This makes me sad.  I would love to know from my readers (if I have any) where the best place to get Crawfish Etouffee is..?  My brother says that Mambo Seafood has the best gumbo just an fyi for y'alls brains. 

My friend I ate with on this day says that Sassafras has one of the best gumbos she's had at a restaurant.  You can truly tell they use real rue, and as well with the etouffee.  It's surprising how many times I've ordered etouffee and just sent it right back, because it was ORANGE.  It isn't supposed to be orange people... It should be a brownish color like gumbo.  Again just for your future knowledge.  Okay I think I've rambled enough about Cajun food in general.  Sassafras was very yummy, and I will go back!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Healthier Choices Report - Jason's Deli

I recently have started living a healthier lifestyle and in doing so I thought I would share with you some of the tastier things that are still good for you. 

Just this past week for lunch I tried something new at Jason's Deli; it was their Mediterranean Wrap.  It contains turkey breast, roasted red pepper hummus, kalamata olives, organic field greens, cucumbers, red onions, and red roma tomatoes on an organic wheat wrap for only 320 calories. 

The flavors on this wrap are a welcome change to what can be a sometimes boring food routine if you aren't fluent in healthy cooking.  I love the taste of hummus.  It is such a different taste than anything I am used to.  And the texture isn't anything scary.  I have had it now as a dip for crackers at a get together, and on a wrap and enjoyed both applications immensely. 

What I like most about this wrap is that it gets its moisture from the hummus instead of something more fattening like guacamole or a dressing.  It comes with you choice of a fruit cup, chips, or steamed veggies.  I would recommend the steamed veggies.  They are piping hot with the perfect texture, and they taste delightfully steamy.  It is a hard thing to describe... The taste of steam.  Just try them and you will see what I mean :o)

Jason's Deli's Website

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Place Report - The Egg and I

Ever since I've moved into my new home my Mom has been eyeing this restaurant called The Egg and I.  I think what caught her eye is the fact that there is always a line of people outside waiting to be able to eat.  One day when we were going to get our hair done she really wanted to stop there, but with a thirty minute wait and a hair appointment looming we just didn't have the time.  So we made a special date to go wait in line to see what all the fuss was about.  With just my mom and me it wasn't a horrible wait.  We simply caught up on the various things going on in our lives.  Finally after about twenty-five minutes we were called in. 

I had seen a brief shot of some egg's benedict on Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives a few days before, so I pretty much already knew what I was going to order when I got there.  The coffee was wonderful, and their fresh squeezed orange juice hit the spot.  Probably about ten to fifteen minutes after ordering our food was brought to us.  My mom ended up ordering the same thing. 

I went into my food coma where I just take bite after bite getting sad as I go on, because it tastes so good, but it's steadily disappearing.  It had been a very long time since I've had egg's benedict, and to my knowledge I can only remember having it one time.  It is one of those foods that take me back to a happy place. 

My middle older brother had made the whole family egg's benedict for breakfast.  Like I said it was a long time ago probably just under ten years.  I wasn't expecting the taste that I got (I think I had forgotten what it tasted like), but it was very delectable.  My head told me that my brother's were better, but I think food association has a lot to do with who you are with, and the time you are having while eating the food.  So in other words I cannot be sure whose was better.  :o) 

I slowly made little perfect bites of english muffin, ham, eggs, and sauce.  I would have to say, if I had to name one, the star of the show would have to have been the ham.  The dish was also served with ranch potatoes.  Now regretfully I have to admit I had a blonde moment when ordering.  In my head I saw some potatoes maybe spiced up with a little hidden valley ranch seasoning on top, but I soon figured out it was more of potatoes you would eat while on a ranch.  My bad.  I do however give you permission to use my ranch sprinkled on top of potatoes idea, because it just sounds good.  Just please don't forget to tell me how they came out if you do. 

Back to the restaurant.  It definitely was a busy place, a lot of hustle and bustle, but not deafening by any means.  I would say it was just your normal breakfast diner.  I would definitely go back, and it is totally worth the wait.  I would rate it way better than IHOP.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Palate Adventurers - Inaugural Run - First Quarter, 2011 - Peli Peli

First of all I would like to say that that Peli Peli is a beautiful restaurant. The decor is truly aesthetically pleasing. Sadly, looks are not everything. I really expected much better service. There were eighteen of us present and we were spread over two tables. Each table had a different waiter. The main thing that was displeasing about it was that we did not get our orders taken or our food brought to us at the same time which caused half of the group to have to wait for the other half at the end of the meal.

As far as what I ordered; it was the Chilean Sea Bass with Scampi. I felt like adding the scampi was not worth the extra money charged ($10 for four shrimp). The sea bass however was very scrumptious and paired well with the lemon garlic butter sauce they provided. The seasoning on the sea bass I thought was good and the fish was hot and tender. Regretfully my Couscous was cold and that was very disappointing since it was one of the things I was looking forward to trying for the first time. The Carrot Bredie though I found to be quite good. It is like mashed potatoes with carrot, onion, and other seasonings within. The scampi to me were just sort of plain. I did taste the scampi taste I was expecting, but not to the extent of what I'm used to. When I’ve had it in the past it is served in a small dish swimming in the sauce. Luckily, I already had the sauce from my fish to help it out. One of the other people in our group got just the scampi and he had to order something on the side to flavor up the plain tasting shrimp. I believe he ended up getting some mango salsa which he said was good. The baby spinach was edible and I say that only because I don't usually eat much cooked spinach. I thought the texture was totally doable and the flavor was decent.

One of the attendees ordered the Surf and Turf which was supposed to come with prawns. Shortly after ordering her entrée the waitress came back to say they were out of prawns. Boo! I was disappointed because the waitress had asked her if she had ever eaten prawns before and said there was a special way they were to be consumed. I was looking forward to watching this process, and enjoying the look on my friend’s face.

I had ordered a margarita which wasn't the best I had ever had. As an appetizer we went with the flat bread and I fondly nick named it super pizza. It was a different taste but very good. I also was given a stuffed peppadew which I have to say was pretty awesome. While eating it I felt it took me on a journey or told me a story. There were four different distinct tastes enjoyed while gobbling it down! I as well snuck some of my husband's sweet potato fries off of his plate and they were really good. They were perfectly salty to counter the sweetness.

As far as the other people in the group it seemed like everyone who had ordered a steak, except for one person, said that they were undercooked. The table on the outside complained about the temperature. Two of the people had to go outside and thaw out at one point, and my friends that brought their son had to go out and redress him, because he was complaining of being cold. My friend’s husband who is a chef in the country on vacation from England said that it almost seemed as if it might have been the chef’s night off, and that if the way we were served would have happened at the last restaurant he worked at someone would have lost their job.  One of the other things I found sort of ironic is that they say their food is "flame pepper fusion", and not one thing was spicy or felt like it had any spice to it at all.  Very disappointing

If you do find yourself stuck with eating at Peli Peli here are my top couple things to order. According to my boss, who didn’t tell me this before I had been to the restaurant, the lamb chops are where it is at. Of course he probably did not term it like that, but one of our group had gotten them and raved about them. The second choice is the Chilean Sea Bass just by itself. I let a few others try the fish and everyone seemed to have the same opinion about it. So like I said if you absolutely have to go… lol!

After eating at a place like Fogo De Chao it shows you that when you pay that much for your food there should be not just good service, but excellence. Like I said before it is about good food and good service. As far as Peli Peli goes I would say that the food was just okay for the price, the service was horrible, and congratulations guys the decor is beautiful.  I'm pretty sure I will not be returning to Peli Peli anytime soon. :o/

 I did however have a great time with everyone, and can't wait to do it again!!!
Peli Peli's Website

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Place Report - The Melting Pot

On our second year wedding anniversary (we have been together 5 1/2 years) my husband and I decided to try out The Melting Pot. We cook fondue at home, and we wanted to check out the concept out and about.

Upon entering the restaurant you immediately notice that it is quite darker than most. With the romantic atmosphere set we headed to our table. (Side Note: I just want to get on my soap box for a minute. I do not like these two person tables restaurants have. I believe that a two person party should be seated at a four person table just due to the fact that by the time you get your food this little table you have been sat at does not accommodate all the food. I may be being a baby here, but seriously!) Obviously I did not feel that our "couple booth" was adequately spaced.

We chose to do the "Big Night Out" because it was our anniversary. It is a four course dinner starting with a cheese fondue, moving to a salad, then the entree portion of the meal, and ending with a dessert fondue. The big night out theme at this time was France. So for our first course we enjoyed the "Fondue a la France" which consisted of a mixture of four cheeses including Brie, Fontina, Raclette, and Gruyere. It was very scrumptious. We were given broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, apples, and three different types of breads to gobble up the cheese with. The breads kind of messed me up for a minute though, and I thought I didn't really enjoy the cheese. What the problem was one of the types of bread had herbs in it, and I just didn't really feel like it went well with the cheese. It pretty much left a very sour aftertaste in your mouth. Of course being the me that I am I had to mention it to the waiter what my issue was. Partly because he had walked by twice and seen a bitter beer face look on my face. He told me that it was rosemary bread, and it made sense to me because I have been known to not enjoy dishes containing rosemary in the past. After I avoided that bread I discerned that the cheese was very tasty.

Next came the salad. I ordered the salade nicoise, and my husband enjoyed their house salad with peppercorn ranch dressing. I had never had this type of salad before, but crazy as it must sound it was almost the highlight of my meal, besides the dessert of course! I really do recommend if you are ever at a restaurant and you have this as your option for your salad course ORDER IT!!! My husband as well said that it was the best ranch dressing he's ever had. So surprise surprise you could almost go here just for the salads!

The main course arrived with a plethora of meats, sauces, batters, and condiments. Regretfully there is no way I can tell you about all the various sauces there were just too many, and half way through the entree I even forgot what most of them were. They might want to think about a little sauce helper card or something. It may be a little confusing when they set so much stuff down in front of you at one time. Thanks to the website I can at least tell you about three of them which are teriyaki, ginger plum(personal favorite), and a mild, yogurt based curry sauce. One of the things I do remember is there were Mushroom caps and the waiter advised me to fill one of them with the Green Goddess sauce and then batter it in one of the two types of batter(guessing here people, but I think one was a tempura batter which is lighter and a sesame batter which is heavier). I believe he told me the thicker batter. This was good when I ate the concoction, but I kind of felt a pang of disappointment when I went on the website and there it was the suggestion I thought was between my waiter and I. The meats that we had on the big night out were the following: lobster tail, filet mignon, pepper-corn encrusted NY strip, chicken provencal, garlic shrimp, duck a l'orange, ratatouille and goat cheese filled ravioli. The cooking style we chose was called Bourguignonne which is a European-style fondue done in fat free canola oil. I wish we would have done one of the other kinds because that is how we do it at home all the time. Oh well though. Everything was very good. It seemed they had trouble keeping the temperature correct on the oil. Sometimes it was too hot, and other times it was too cold. It was almost like a we had tickets to a fight between the manager and the waiter, but I'll go into more about that in a minute right now we are talking about food! They gave us the lengths of time that everything took to cook, but it was hard to judge really how long it had been. It would be cool if they had a cute timing system you could use like maybe those flip over sand times with the different levels being marked for the different foods. I was kind of thinking to myself that it might be the difference between the oil and the bouillon type of cooking methods, but like I said above it could also have been the temperature problems. If I would have left my meat in as long as they said, say the either the filet mignon or the NY strip, it would have been burnt to a crisp. As well both the lobster and shrimp took no time at all. After finishing our entree portion of the meal we made our decision about desert.

The good thing about the big night out even if you don't like a certain portion of the menu you are allowed to substitute it out for one of their other regular menu items.

The dessert however we kept with French theme, because it was a crème brulee. One of our personal favorites. It encompassed white chocolate complete with a caramel salt on top then sprayed with some sort of edible fuel and was flambéed right there at our table. Also a lot of their other desserts are lit on fire, so if this one isn't your cup of tea there are others with just as much excitement. With dessert came another grouping of things to stab, cover in the chocolate, and enjoy. There was bite size brownie pieces, pound cake pieces, a slice of cheesecake, rice crispy treat bites, both crushed graham cracker covered and crushed Oreo covered marshmallows, strawberries, and bananas. My personal favorites believe it or not were the marshmallows. I can imagine the s’mores dessert they have is to die for as well.

We were also given a free glass of rose colored champagne for our anniversary. I wish it would have come sooner in the meal though with all that food and a few alcoholic beverages already down we couldn't quite fit the bubbly stuff. It was yummy the few sips I had. Even though there were some issues I was trying really hard not to let it ruin a momentous event.

I do have that thing I started talking about that I can't leave you hanging... Our waiter was a pretty good guy. It seemed like he might have been stretched over too many tables, and if that wasn't the case... Then I just don't know... The manager ended up mixing our first course for us, and his enthusiasm was not the greatest. It made me think the waiter probably would have done a better job. With the temperature of the oil it was almost like the waiter and the manager were going to get into a fight. The manager rudely came over and took our oil away before we were able to start our entree course and said it was too hot and he was going to take it in the back, change the pot to a cool pot, and add more oil. In my opinion burnt oil is burnt oil he should have just told us he was getting fresh oil. As well his pompous attitude while doing so I assume he was trying to either make the waiter look/feel bad, but he really only succeeded in making himself look like an ass. Like I said earlier it was hard to keep all the sauces straight, and I think it is because not only is the waiter explaining what the meats are which there were a lot of them, but even I had to bring to his attention that he hadn't even told us what any of the many little containers were that he set in front of us. So that was one thing that didn't bode well for the waiter.

All I can say is I hope they were busy that night, but on a Tuesday night it's hard to believe that they would have been that busy to cause such a constant inconsistency in service. The total time we were there, and I'm not sure if this is the typical amount of time for the big night out, but we arrived at seven and did not leave until three hours later at ten. We weren't really expecting that much time to have gone by, and that late of a night on a week night. I apologize if some of the things I have said seem harsh, but my first job was in the food service industry and I've always been a real stickler on customer service. There are two essential things that will keep an establishment in business great food and great service.

Overall I would return more because I have a twenty-five dollar gift certificate, and I always like to go to a place at least twice before completely writing them off.

Let me know if you've had a good experience there, and tell me your waiter's name. ;o)

The Melting Pot's Website

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Usual Spots Report - Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen

On this day I was able to meet up with some friends of mine from England.  Well just to clarify my friend is from here, but her husband and her son are from there.  She was really wanting some gumbo, and who can blame her?!?  I'd miss the food here too if I moved to a different country. 

While perusing the menu they had decided to get frog's legs as an appetizer.  I have never had the pleasure to try these before.  I was very excited to do so.  So after a little bit of a wait here they come sitting (hehe) all pretty on the plate five frog's legs.  They were served with a buttery sauce, some slices of garlic bread, and I'm not sure if they came from the sauce, but there were some stewed tomatos as well in the mix. 

I have to say I've heard people say that frog's legs taste like chicken, but you often hear that everything different tastes like chicken!  In my opinion if I had to relate them to something I would have to say they tasted more like fish; almost with a firmer fish texture like say a Mahi Mahi (my favorite fish by the way). 

The butter sauce they cooked/served it in is really what made the dish(per my friend's husband).  We dipped the bread slices in the sauce with some of those stewed tomatos to polish it off.  It was very yummy, and now I can proudly say I have tried frog's legs and they are not scary they are actually tasty!

Pappadeaux's Website

Friday, February 18, 2011

Culinary Lunch Adventure - Lenny's Sub Shop

Tried Lenny's Sub Shop off of Louetta today... Again I couldn't stear away from that French Dip I love so much! The reason why I didn't care for it was because it didn't seem to have much flavor in the meat and the au jus, and honestly it seemed to have a slimy quality to the meat.  I really liked the cheese and the bread on it tho! *shrugs... one of my friends says she has had their Chicken Salad there and it is good, so take it for what it's worth my friends :o)

Lenny's Website

New Place Report - Rancho Real

So my husband and I were feeling a little adventuresome last night and tried a new mexican restaurant we've never been to before. It was called Rancho Real and it is on the feeder of 249 in between Cypresswood and Grant when heading South.

Well.... the first thing I can say is that the sauces were tasty. Their green sauce and red sauces were both very flavorful, but I will warn you they are sneak-um-up-on-ya hot. We of course had to get margaritas. The margaritas were very fresh tasting they use a good mix, but they were definitely lacking in the tequila department... :o/

Well we then ordered the Tototlan Fajitas. We were very dissappointed in the amount of meat that was served for a (2) people helping. The veggies were good. The beans were as well good. They gave what I guess I'll call an avacado salad which was odd. It seemed as if they put so much lime juice on there to protect the avacado from going bad you couldn't even taste the flavor of the avacado. I would say that the wait staff was very attentive.

So overall for what we paid versus what we received I do not think we will be returning there anytime soon....

Rancho Real on B4-U-EAT's Website

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Here's an experiment everyone can do, and how I try to find restaurants. And maybe you do this already.. that's cool too, but in case you don't. Go to Google... Type in either Houston, TX or a more specific area, and then take what you had typed out of the bar and replace it with the word restaurants. It will pop up a million red dots, and you merely have to scroll over them and they will tell you what they are. Let me know if you guys come across anything interesting.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Started Palate Adventurers!!

I started a group today on FaceBook.  Here's the description to the group:

"Here’s the deal. I want to try new restaurants!!! So I wanted to start a club for people who love to eat at new restaurants and try new foods. To make it all feasible I thought that it would be good to try a new restaurant every three months or once a quarter. As well I was thinking so we could accommodate a lot of people in this club the dates for our excursions would have to be finite. If you couldn’t make that particular gathering you could try and make the next one, due to the fact it is too hard to try to fit a gathering into every member’s life. We definitely would have to have an RSVP end date/time due to the fact if our groups do get big we can call and reserve a/some table/tables there.  I just want to go out and enjoy some new and different foods. It seems that the first quarter of 2011 is super busy so I’m thinking that we will start in the second quarter. Let’s start throwing out some ideas. Where have you never been, but have always wanted to try?!?"

Palate Adventurers FaceBook Group

Monday, January 17, 2011

Culinary Lunch Adventure (What started it all...)

Anyone that truly knows me knows that I have a passion for trying to connect the world through my theories.  I have a theory about people in relation to food.  I believe there are two types of people; The “Same Old, Same Old” people and the “Variety is Fun!” people.  I happen to fall in the second category.  To give an example: My husband, our roomate at the time, & I would go eat at Los Arcos (West & Beltway 8) every Sunday morning while we roomated together, and we would arrive and get seated, and they would only hand ME a menu. 

Why you ask?, because the boys always ordered the same thing every week; Lunch Menu Beef Fajitas w/ nothing but a side of sour cream, shredded cheese, and beans.  I however ordered something different every time; sometimes it was the Flautas, sometimes the Queso Flameado (They have the best of this I swear!!!), or sometimes I would have fajitas with the boys. 

So back to the point, I usually eat my lunch with my co-worker who happens to be a “Same Old, Same Old” person, so when all these restaurants starting opening around the Willowbrook area I really wanted to see what they were all about.  Well because my co-worker is out having her baby I am left with a lunch break to go wherever my little heart desires.  So in this first week I decided to have a Culinary Adventure.  And this is my chronology.

Monday – January 10th, 2011 – I enjoy a good sandwich which I am sure everyone does.  My second job ever was working at Subway.  Subway is good and all don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t seem to have that flair that I’m missing.  My dad used to make subs at the house with Boar’s Head meats, yummy expensive cheeses, and some sort of sub dressing.  They were always very good.  That is the sandwich I am looking for, and how I rate every sandwich shop I go to. 

So I tried that new guy in town called Which Wich.  Upon studying the menu before I ever left the office I spied that they had a French Dip.  I have a love affair with those silly sandwiches, and cannot resist getting them.  I tried to talk myself into a multi-meat and lots of veggies regular sub, but my affair with the French Dip won out.  I will say for starters that I truly enjoyed their bread.  As far as the French Dip itself I would rather enjoy one from say Jason’s Deli or even Arby’s.  As I was finishing eating I said to myself “I should have gotten a regular sandwich!!”  I did like their selection of chips and funky décor.  As well I ended up eating everything I bought. 

I would have to give Which Wich a “Better Than Subway” rating.  I would eat there again.

Which Wich's Website

Tuesday – January 11th, 2011 – I don’t know if you have been to CheeBurger CheeBurger yet or not, but I just LOVE it!!! (The only one in Texas is in the Vintage Park off of Louetta) They have so many different ways to make your burger, awesome fries and onion rings, and shakes beyond belief. 

So when my huband’s little brother said that Five Guys Burgers & Fries’ burgers were better I was skeptical.  So my Tuesday adventure became to see if he was speaking the truth.  Five Guys has a very basic menu.  And I was kind of surprised when I asked the girl the difference between the Burger and a Little Burger what her response was.  What I was expecting was a measurement i.e. ¼ lb., 1/3 lb., or ½ lb., but what she said instead was “The Burger has two patties and the Little Burger has one.”  Well me being a person that can be fully satisfied off of a McDonald’s kids meal (And not the mighty kids meal either, just the regular one)  I ordered the Little Burger with a Regular Cajun Fry.  (I think Curly and Cajun fries are things you just have to get… Who wants a plain old French fry when you can get super potatoes?!?!) 

While waiting for my food I looked around the shop and what they’ve done in there is interesting.  Basically they’ve taken anything anyone (Journalists) have said about them and blown it up and put it on their walls.  I can see where this would draw people in.  If you thought some place had won a bunch of awards and was mentioned many times in various newspapers you would want to eat there too. 

Back to the food…  The gentleman working the fry station calls my number while looking at me; I nod and approach the counter.  He calls the number before he dishes out the fries which I find a little odd, but then he gives me a small wink and smile and dumps an extra portion of fries in my bag.  Which for a guy would have probably been fine and dandy, but I’m thinking, “Shucks I’m totally going to waste all those fries!” 

I return to my office and sit down in the break room and think to myself as I’m unwrapping my burger “How did they get the burger into this shape in the wrapper?”  I couldn’t figure it out before I had opened it and restructured the veggies.  (Which I recommend everyone do!!!  No one making food cares about the perfect bite as much as you do; you have to take on that responsibility as your own!!)  The burger was very good, and I would say that it ranks right up there with CheeBurger CheeBurger.  It’s hard to say which one is better than the other. 

Lets do a comparison real quick.  Five guys didn’t get everything I asked for on the burger because the girl wasn’t listening to me as I placed my order, which at CheeBurger you sit down at the table and have your waitress taking your order with pen and paper, instead of going through the line and ordering your food, waiting for it and sitting down.  The meats are so different it is hard to say which one it better.  I think CheeBurger has a better quality meat and their patties are thicker.  While you can tell the Five Guys meat is hand shaped, and is thinner.  I would say Five Guys would be more a diner style burger even though CheeBurger has a diner style atmosphere.  The bun at Five Guys I would say is better, because it is a true bun.  CheeBurger’s I would almost call a roll.  The fries are better at CheeBurger, they are more of a greasy diner fry which I really like.  The Cajun fries to me had too much seasoning, and left a strange orange color on anything they touched.  Almost like chorizo grease, a little weird.  I finished my burger, but there was no way I could dream of eating that many fries.  I would go back again, and I really want to take my husband there to get a guys opinion. 

I think I would rate Five Guys as “Not Better Than CheeBurger But Right Up There”.

Five Guy's Website
Cheeburger's Website

Wednesday – January 12th, 2011 – A certain someone I know happens to find themselves in kitchens of places around the Houston Area, and that person says that they will never eat at a James Coney Island again.  But if you are like me and have seen that special on PBS on hot dogs; you get the craving every once in a while. 

When I saw the new restaurant open called Franks & Toppings I was interested, and this is why I made it my Wednesday adventure.  What I didn’t realize until I pulled up the website is that they only serve organic food.  Which I really don’t have any cares about, but I know other people do so I thought I would mention it. 

I went there and ordered a good old chili dog, and asked the guy if he liked the fries or onion rings better, and he started in on the sweet potato fries.  I told him I was not interested in those at the moment, but the minute I start a new diet I might be back for them.  He suggested the onion rings.  I received my food and brought it back to work and sat down in the break room.  The onion rings were very crunchy and yummy with big think onions inside.  The hot dog put me off at first because the coloration was a little funny.  Not red or even pink like a typical hot dog, but besides the color this hot dog was very yummy, and texturally fine. 

The chili, cheese, onions, mustard were all great on top, but believe it or not the star of the show was the hot dog bun.  Best hot dog bun I’ve ever seen or had the pleasure eating.  They even said people who have allergies to bread can eat their buns, because of how they are made.  Sorry you’ll have to do your own research here if you are allergic to make sure they will work for you.  I ended up eating all the onion rings, and only half of the hot dog, because I was full.  They only give you like five or six onion rings, but they are so huge!!  I think this would be a great place to check out if you are conscious of your health.  They also have veggie burgers, salmon burgers, turkey burgers, etc.  I would eat here again. 

I would rate this place "Way Better Than James Coney".

Franks & Toppings Website

Thursday – January 13th, 2011 (My Honey’s Birthday!! ) – Well after posting my journey thus far and being one day short of a week on ideas where to go eat each day I took the advice of a friend.  I visited My Fit Foods.  I had seen them there for a while now, as I had been visiting Schlotzsky’s (My Favorite Sandwich Shop!!). 

I have to say this place is very interesting and informative.  Not currently being on a diet and amongst a culinary adventure that has no thoughts about healthiness I felt a little silly upon entering.  But the person I met who helped me was amazing.  His name was Brian and he took me through the whole shpeel about what their goals are and about their food. 

I was expecting a restaurant and that isn’t quite what I got.  I was a little shocked when I walked in and saw no tables to sit at and no counter to order food from.  It is basically laid out like the cold section of a gas station; a long row of refrigerators holding various pre-packaged meals.  Brian informed me that all their meals are made at their 290 and Hollister location and are distributed out to the other stores daily.  Brian told me a bunch about the food there about how they have low glycemic carbohydrates, but really I felt he was speaking Greek to me.  I really don’t know much about the actual parts to food that makes them healthy.  I just want to know… Does it taste good? 

Brian suggested the Lean Lemon Turkey for me, and I decided that’s what I would have.  He explained it as a “Healthy Dirty Rice”.  After getting back to work and taking my food out I assessed the situation.  What I was looking at was a layer of ground turkey meat on a bed of rice (Now I realize that ground turkey meat substituted for ground beef can freak people out, but all I can say is open your mind, Turkey is yummy in all sorts of forms).  It also came with two asparagus spears and a lemon.  I squeezed the lemon across my meal and commenced the consumption. 

Believe it or not my friends this meal was very tasty.  It was lemony and had a little spice to it.  I again received the small portion of food, but you can order a medium to a large portion.  The asparagus was very tasty as well.  I would highly recommend this place to people who are concerned with their health.  It’s like having a fridge full of healthy leftovers at your fingertips.  It was such a nice change to having to worry about making the food yourself, and resisting adding that butter you so desperately want.  I definitely would eat at this place again, but I have a feeling my husband, and perhaps even my co-worker would want NOTHING to do with it. 

I would give this place a “Awesome Healthy Lunch Place” rating.

My Fit Food's Website

Friday – January 14th, 2011 – I was super super busy this day, so a co-worker was nice enough to get my lunch for me, which means something sad… I’ve still never been in this place, but I at least I can tell you about my experience with their food. 

Friday’s culinary adventure was Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches.  I have to say I really didn’t enjoy the sandwich I got there… Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten one of their Giant Subs and just stuck with the smaller ones.  But I really really wanted some avocado on my sandwich especially after eating the French Dip at Which Wich the other day.  I got the Beach Club.  The things I was not happy with on this sub was the amount of sprouts, how little avocado they put, and the side cut bread. 

I miss the old days when subway used to cut their bread LIKE A BOAT!!!  This may just be a personal preference, but here is my reasoning behind it.  While eating my Jimmy John’s sandwich every bite I took everything else tried to run out of the other end….  How can eating a sandwich be enjoyable when you are chasing all the innards the whole time?  This is my philosophy either make a boat, like the old subway way, or cut the thing entirely in half.  No more of this half cutting the bread stuff people!!!  It never ends well!  As well I felt like I had to dislocate my jaw to be able to eat it, and that is why I banned Quizno’s so many years ago.  When will these people understand we are not snakes!!  (*Steps off soapbox.*) 

So from this experience I would have to say I would eat Jimmy John’s again, and try a smaller sandwich, but I can’t see myself saying when someone asks me “Where’s a good place to get a good sandwich?”, yelling “Jimmy John’s, Jimmy John’s”. 

I guess I would have to give Jimmy John’s a “Better than Quizno’s” rating.

Jimmy John's Website

After Thoughts:  The “Same Old, Same Old” term I used for the people who aren’t that thrilled with eating different things all the time seems harsh to me now, and I just wanted to clarify that is nothing that would make one of these types of people better or worse than the other they are just different.

I feel another disclaimer should be made here about… Who am I to be able to dole out these judgments of food?  I’m nobody really, just a woman that LOVES food!!, and loves to write I guess.  Please remember that I am one individual and even though they say that journalism does not have bias I believe that anything that runs through a human's mind or is touched by a human hand is somehow biased in the end.  So take my reviews for what they are worth, my opinion. 

I just wanted to make a TMI note here as well.  Let’s just say if you are used to eating all the bad foods, and you switch to eating really healthy foods your tummy will not like you very much.  And this is what happened to me on both Wednesday and Thursday.  So be careful my dear friends.  Either eat healthy or not; don’t mess with your digestive system like that it’s just not nice. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Place Report - Fogo De Chao

I have to say before I start telling you about this place I can feel the love if you can call it love spilling out from my fingertips... Maybe it's adoration or excitement of just being able to share with you how wonderful this place truly is. 

(A funny backstory is the fact that I had actually been inside of Fogo De Chao before, and did not make it to a table.  It was a Friday evening and the person responsible for making reservations failed to do so, and there was an hour wait.  Our party did not feel like waiting so we left and enjoyed a different place that evening.  I was so sad that I had been so close.  But little did I know in the future about a year later I would get my opportunity.) 

My wonderful mother decided that she wanted to take our little immediate family to Fogo De Chao, and boy am I glad she made up her mind to do so.  In attendance were my husband, my brother, my brother's girlfriend, my mom, and I. 

Upon arriving and entering we were seated almost immediately.  The atmosphere of the place is bustling and exciting.  You can tell by the decor that it is an upscale version of the traditional Brazilian Churrascaria.  Before we get to the experience let me tell you more about what a Churrascaria is.  The word Churrascaria means Steakhouse or at least is loosely translated as such.  The type of cooking is actually called Churrasco which is in Brazil the term for Barbecue.  The difference between our Barbecue and theirs pretty much consists of the fact that they cook everything on skewers over coals, versus us who use a grill grate between our food and our fires. 

Now that you are caught up to speed on exactly what all those funny sounding terms mean let's go back to the restaurant.  As you get settled in at your table the Maitre d' explains the process to you.  You have a round card to use at your discretion; one side is red and the other green.  A pretty simple concept if you ask me.  If you want the gaucho chefs to bring you meat then turn your card to the green side and a plethora of meats will be whisked your way.  They will let you know what they are carrying on their spit, and you simply discern whether you would like that type of meat at that very moment or not.  One other heads up I have to give you is most of the meats just get a little cut and are slid straight onto your plate, but there are those few where they start to slice and you are supposed to clutch onto them with tongs that are provided to you.  It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the rythum down you become a seasoned pro at doing your part of the dance.  The Maitre d' also informs you that the salad bar is in the center of the restaurant containing various salads, cheeses, cold meats, and salmon.  They also ask you whether you would like sparkling water or spring water.  Beware I believe both of these options are extra hits to the pocket book.  Thankfully on this visit my sister-in-law said we would like to have regular water. 

While going to the salad bar the direction you are supposed to start at is clearly marked though some like everywhere you go are rebels and try to start at the wrong spot or go in the opposite direction.  The only critique I have about the salad bar is that there should be labels.  You can fancy up some labels I promise.  It is hard to try new things when you are guessing what they might be from the beginning.  I had to ask one of the salad bar attendants what a few things were.  To give my opinion on some of the salad bar items I would first have to speak with you about the salmon.  I can't tell you how much I love smoked salmon.  It is one of the most delicious flavors I have tasted in my life.  The salmon on the salad bar is smoked and very yummy.  I also love the fact that they had tabbouleh which is a salad of sorts that has Lebanese origins which I thought came from Greece that consists of cracked wheat, tomato, parsley, mint, onion, lemon juice, and olive oil.  I have had this in the past pared with salmon and loved it.  Typically pita bread is how you would eat this lovely mixture, but there was not one in sight so I became inventive.  They had large fresh lettuce pieces so I made a Greek lettuce wrap with the tabbouleh and smoked salmon.  To die for!!  Besides my favorite little snack I created there is also fresh mozzarella, various vegetables, salads, aged parmesan, and cold meats.  One of the prepared salads I also enjoyed was their chicken salad.  Very good and worth a little spot in your stomach along the way. 

Meanwhile back at the table the servers have brought our drinks and as well placed the three side dishes that are unlimited for us to enjoy.  The three sides are crispy hot polenta (which tastes like a milder form of corn bread with in my opinion a better texture, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, but keep in mind I'm not a huge corn bread person so take that for what you will), garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas (which I'm not a fan of hot bananas so you will have to go there and try them yourselves),  and a warm cheese bread authentic to Brazil called pão de queijo(the bread is a little different than I am used to, but I really thought at first they just like the middle of their bread doughy in Brazil, but after perusing the internet after my visit I realized it must have been the cheese and not uncooked dough I was experiencing.)

My sister-in-law gave the phrase of the night she said "I don't want for anything."  I couldn't have put it better myself.  Let me go in to detail on how this occurs.  As I mentioned before you have the gaucho chefs that bring you your meat and the Maître d' that is watching how everything is going at every table, but besides these people you have various other waiters and servers that are taking care of your every whim.  If you take a drink of your refreshment and it becomes below a certain level they are there to refill it, if you drop your napkin before you can pick it up and put it back in your lap they are there with a new one, and of course if one of your pieces of silverware happens to fall again they are there before you could think about getting it to place it back upon the table.  During our particular meal my husband dropped his napkin and like I said they were like lighting in giving him a new one and whisking the old one away, and a little bit later during the meal my brother's napkin didn't even really fall completely on the floor it had slid down his legs and towards his feet.  He thought he was being smooth and gently pulling the napkin back to its rightful place and before he could get it sneakily back into his lap a server was there with a new one.  I have to be honest here it is a little intimidating if you are not used to so many people watching you to make sure that everything is going smoothly and there are no issues during the course of your meal. 

Now that I've let you know about the salad bar, the way the process works, and the side dishes you get to enjoy let's get down to the most important thing about this restaurant the MEAT!!!  They have 11 plus types of meats that get brought to your table.  I say plus because some of the meats are the same type of meat prepared in a different way.  On their website they have the Portuguese words for the meat, but when they come to your table they do not use them, which I am glad of, because you would not at any point know what type of meat you were eating.  Here come the meats...  Top Sirloin (My second favorite) which they also call their House Sirloin (Picanha), Filet Mignon (My personal favorite) which you can also get bacon wrapped, Rib Eye (Beef Ancho), Top Sirloin (Alcatra), Bottom Sirloin (Fraldinha), Beef Ribs (Costela), Lamb which you can get in chop form or sliced right off the leg which is my personal preference (Cordeiro), Chicken which comes both as a leg lightly seasoned or a breast wrapped in bacon (Frango), Pork Ribs (Costela de Porco), Pork Loin which is encrusted which parmesan cheese yum! (Lombo), and Brazilian Sausage (Linguica).  Please keep in mind that all these delicious smelling meats are constantly passing by you and filling the whole restaurant with a smell like no other. 

After you have had your fill of unlimited salad bar, side dishes, and meats you may or may not even be able to think about dessert.  While we were there however we took the opportunity to experience the full experience and ordered some dessert.  I enjoyed their crème brûlée which was very delectable; at some restaurants when they give you this dessert the portion is very small, but not here.  I would almost say it would be plenty to share, almost :o).  The other desserts that they offer are a South Americn Flan, Turtle Cheesecake, Molten Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, and their signature dessert is their Papaya Cream which comes in various flavors. 

Well I hope that you have enjoyed my opinion of this wonderful place, and I hope that you get to visit there soon if you haven't been. 

Fogo De Chao's Website