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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Fork in the Road: Buffalo Grille Woodway (Houston, TX)

I've been eating here for years.  It's a loud, family-oriented breakfast joint in Houston with two locations (Woodway and Wesleyan Plaza), but the breakfast rocks! 
Usually I stick to a regular breakfast of eggs, peppered bacon (a Buffalo Grille speciality), grits and biscuit. 
Buffalo Grille has a buffet of condiments and can choose between Cinnamon/Columbian/House coffees and then there's the condiments...mustards, jellies, jams, hot syrup, any bottled hot sauce under the sun and a huge bowl of Pace Picante.  My favorite for eggs and grits! 

If you like BIG breakfast burritos, you get:

Huevos Burrito – 2 scrambled eggs, sausage & REFRIED beans wrapped in a flour tortilla with cheese and green (tomatillo) chili sauce
As I walked past people's tables with hashbrowns and they were 'diner-style' shredded, I got excited to order a side.  They weren't disappointing, but weren't what was wanted.  I like 'diner-style' super crispy shredded and these are just shredded and cooked.

Buffalo Grille Woodway  1301 S. Voss (713) 784-FOOD

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Fork in the Road: Baby Barnaby's (Houston, TX)

Baby Barnaby's sits in the northern part of Houston's Montrose area and is favorite among breakfast-loving Houstonians.  Houston isn't huge on their brunch scene, but they know breakfast and Mexican breakfast well! 

It is a warm reception from the staff given most have worked there for years and this menu is what you want.  Not a million options, just a one-pager so they make sure all their items are appetizing. Get there early on the weekend as the wait can be over an hour!

Breakfast Plate - two eggs over easy, grits, smoked sausage and biscuits (with a few of my potatoes)

Green Eggs* - Two eggs scrambled with spinach, artichoke hearts and jack cheese, served with chicken apple sausage, potatoes, and wheat toast.  Some folks order soft eggs and it's never really something I've taken to, but because of the ingredients, it takes like soft eggs, except everything well done.  It's something you just have to experience.  The potatoes are (hollow) squares that are crisp on the outside and the inside, soft.  They stay this way even if you leave some and continue to pick.  Best chicken apple sausage split and smoked to taste similar to pork.

* the secret to these puppies is order with jalapenos.  It's off-the-menu.

The coffee is $2.25 and the best part, the waiters bring over a pot and constantly re-fill.

If you're in the area, great custom boots are down a few streets.  Tejas Custom Boots is one of the last real custom shops.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Fork in the Road: My Last Meal at Americas (Post Oak) Houston, TX

It was only proper I have one last meal at Americas after celebrating many birthdays and accomplishments here since high school.  Michael Cordua has been credited with leading the Latin America culinary movement in America and the only Texas chef to be inducted to the "Food & Wine Hall of Fame".  Luckily, he made Houston his home.  Walking in, it feels like a Latin American goth scene; dark walls, furniture and sculpture.  It feels like a Vegas casino, with its decor and lavish ceiling art and lighting fixtures, except interesting.

Parents ordered mixed greens salad....bleh...though the cilantro dressing was good...a little tart, a little creamy, green goddess with cilantro.  I opted for Ahi Tuna ceviche and was skeptical given the amount of ingredients (roasted peanut, jícama, cilantro, crispy onion, citrus ponzu); it easily could have been without the peanut and onion, but I enjoyed it very much.
I had to have my staple at the Churassco's/Americas restaurants, which is Pollo Encamisado. 
This palliard of plantain crusted chicken sitting on top of black bean sauce with seared panela cheese and crema fresca is delectable.  Heavy, but not in a 'I feel so stuffed' type of way.  Of course, it's better if you don't have an appetizer, but what's the fun in that?  This dish has never disappointed me at Americas or any Churassco's.

Mom - If ever there were a salmon to be ordered, this is it.  Salmon Caliente.  This light, non-fishy grilled atlantic salmon, shrimp ceviche beurre blanc, pico de gallo didn't miss a mark.

Dad - Chileno.  Pan roasted sea bass over polenta spoon bread, sautéed spinach, and habanero beurre blanc.  The beurre blanc has the habanero taste, but not the heat, which is nice for for fish. 

All and all, was a great farewell to the Post Oak location (now in its final couple weeks of operation).  Cordua has since opened a bustling River Oaks location. 

p.s.  the plaintain chips with dipping sauces are my fav starter!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Reason to Not Dining on 6th Street - Banjara

After perusing through many reviews of Banjara and being mostly positive, we tried this Curry Lane restaurant on a beautiful Thursday evening. We sat outside, and surprisingly without traffic and noise as you would think the East Village has.


We begin with chicken samosas. They are soft and curry-spiced, but lack any moisture   


Chicken madras - see those chilis to the right? There was none of that (spiciness) going on in the dish.


Lal Mas - lamb with chilis. See the deep redness of the dish? Yep, no spiciness in this either.


Chicken & mushrooms in herbed cream
Everything was bland and did not have a hint of spicy even in the 'spicy' dishes.  At least the naan and dipping sauces were decent.  Too bad!
97 1st Avenue @6th Street  (212) 477-5956

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Fork in the Road: New Orleans, LA

Highlights from last year's trip with friends....

Day 1, Friday - We arrived very late, Acme was close to the hotel and only an average beginning.

Fried Pickles

Red beans & rice - my FAVORITE NOLA dish!

Blackened Alligator w. tartar sauce

Day 2, Saturday - Mother's, an historical NOLA establishment known for their long lines at breakfast (po-boys are also known) and friendly staff, but fair's a tourist trap.

 Plain 'ole fried eggs, grits, sausage and a side of divine biscuits

The Divine biscuits with homemade jam which Edna bought us upon our NYC return 

Plain waffle with hot syrup (not pictured)

Crawfish omelet with grits
Stick with the 'plain 'oles'.  The crawfish omelet's sauce was too watery and too fishy at 9am.                                                     
Day 3, Sunday

On a sweltering New Orleans summer day, we set out for Rampart Food Store on the outskirt of the French Quarter.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, it was closed (think Sunday church in NOLA) so we hoofed it to Frenchman Street.  Our walk took us to Praline Connection.  Here there were families dressed in their 'Sunday best' and dining family style on Cajun-Creole Soul Food. 

Fried Okra
Chicken Livers with Hot Pepper Jelly

'A Taste of Soul Platter'
File Gumbo, Red Beans & Rice, Jambalaya, Greens, Fried Chicken, Ribs, Catfish Strips and Bread Pudding

The above was much smaller than it sounds and was a great amount to split between 4 gals.  The okra and livers were perfectly fried and the platter, while tasty, had heavier frying.  There was nothing truly notable except the bread pudding, which was exceptional. 
Day 3, Monday - Edna and I make it to Rampart Food Store.  Located in the back of a bare convenience store, it is completely run by Chinese.  And BOY, do they know how to make a po-boy.  What makes you salivate over these bad boys, is the seafood being fried tempura-style (light breading).  They don't dress the sandwich with tartar or cocktail sauce, just the typical ketchup and mayo.  We couldn't get down the block, before we sat on a neighborhood stoop and started.  If you have the time, make it to is worth it! 

Acme  724 Iberville Street (504) 522-5973

Mother's  401 Poydras Street (504) 523-9656
The Praline Connection  542 Frenchman Street (504) 943-3934