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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!