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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Zake - Friend's Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edamame was ordered for everyone and was a fitting snack. 

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

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

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tenshi - Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2012

Palate Adventurers: Third Quarter 2011 Gathering - Reef Houston

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, June 25, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Whispering Pines Inn Website

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Roving Eater's Report - Elephant Bar Restaurant - Peoria, AZ

I recently was blessed enough to be able to go visit my family in Arizona for Thanksgiving.  I flew in on Monday and left on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  There I found myself on Friday feeling like the only thing I regretted was that I had not had a chance to eat out at any restaurants while I was there. 

The plan for Friday was my niece was going to pick me up and we were going to my step-brother’s house to hang out until I had to head to the airport.  My niece had been up all night doing the early black Friday shopping so she was running behind.  We also had not eaten lunch and were running out of time.  My step-brother suggested we just meet for lunch and then head to the airport to fly out.  My regret had been absolved!

We all met up at one of his favorite restaurants the Elephant Bar Restaurant.  They were already seated when my niece and I arrived.  They ordered us the global sampler appetizer which encompassed Niu, Niu Coconut Fried Shrimp Skewers, Fried Chicken Tenders, Bruschetta, and Warm & Spicy Artichoke Dip.  It was served with two different sauces one being a more glazed, sweet sauce, and the other being more of a creamy, savory sauce. 

After trying each piece of the appetizer I went to the task of deciding what I wanted for lunch.  Their menu is huge!  I would suggest possibly looking online before you go to give yourself more time to prepare on deciding what you would like to try.  Upon gazing mesmerized at the menu I noticed that on the lunch menu they had fish and chips and they made it with Mahi Mahi!  My favorite fish!  It was called the Macadamia Nut Crusted Fish & Chips.  Typically you see fish and chips made with Cod.  My step-brother even asked me what kind of fish it was and was surprised when I told him.  I also had an amazing margarita, which was just their house margarita. 

The restaurant had a worldly feel to it.  With art pieces that made me feel as if I was in Africa. 

The waitress we had was extremely nice.  My sister-in-law asked that her Ahi Tuna be a little bit more done than they would typically prepare it. Even though the waitress did not seem optimistic about being able to take care of her request; she was able to sweet talk the chef, and delivered the food as requested. 

I do have to report that the crunchiness on all these fried items was just amazing.  I know I have never had Panko Japanese bread crumbs before, and of course I cannot tell you if these were those.  If they were not I would like to find out what they were, because the crunch on these things rivaled no other! 

Regretfully our lunch was cut shorter than we would have liked due to the fact that the time for my flight was fast approaching.  We all hugged and kissed goodbye and spoke about hopes of seeing each other sooner than the last time.  Six years is just too long.  I feel as if I ended my trip on a high note.  Well a high note in my world, because as we all know food is the highlight of my life! 

I would definitely stop into an Elephant Bar Restaurant again if I am traveling and need some world cuisine.