Thursday, August 27, 2009


What's not to love about grilled cheese? Or better yet, a restaurant solely dedicated to the existence of the grilled cheese sandwich? And so there we have Chedd's, a Denver-based operation, now with it's third store in the franchise, up at the Triangle. (And for those of you who have been in Austin for more than 5 years, you may remember fondly when this area was just a big grassy patch of land, across from Texas Dept. of Health, where Lamar & Guadalupe streets come together...they talked about developing that land for YEARS before anyone actually did something about it, and from what I can tell, they've been rather successful.)

It's a much smaller shop than I envisioned, maybe because the pictures on their website make it look like huge (maybe the one's in Colorado are...). But it's casual, and the service was friendly. The menu, however is almost overwhelming; I had studied it online a bit before meeting friends for lunch, but still had no clue what I wanted. They have over 30 sandwich offerings to choose from (I was very tempted by the French Kiss), OR, you can build your own sandwich by choosing from 35+ kinds of cheese, add-ons/fixin's, bread options, etc. I decided to build my own, with chipotle cheddar and bacon on multigrain. My order taker said they were out of the chipotle cheddar, and after a couple suggestions and ensuing discussion, I opted for the jalapeno jack. I had procured a 20% off coupon, so my friends and I all ordered on the same ticket. One of them ordered the Meatless Horse, but wasn't told that they were out of the same chipotle cheddar. So, maybe the order taker didn't realize there was chipotle cheddar in that sandwich, but we're sitting there eating, and she's like "I don't taste anything spicy, there's no chipotle flavor." Whoops. So again, they were friendly, and brought the finished sandwiches to our table, but it would have been nice to know they were out of one of the ingredients upfront.

It is nice that you can order a half sandwich of anything, and if you bump up your sandwich to a combo meal, you get your choice of chips or salad... maybe soup too, I can't totally remember. And they do have tomato soup, for all those who grew up on tomato soup & grilled cheese. Overall, my sandwich was good, not greasy on the outside, cheese sufficiently melted on the inside, but the bacon was not crisp, so I'll take some points off there. Would I go back? Yes. Would I want to be in there with a ton of kids? No. But does it take you back to your childhood years? Duh.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Recent Repeats

A lovely dinner at FINO Tuesday night. Apps: fried anchovy olives (one of my favorite things all night!), haloumi & sherried figs, fried goat cheese w/ red onion jam, filo cigars (w/chicken, almonds, raisins & a touch of chile). Soups: acorda de mariscos (garlic & prawn bisque) & gazpacho. Entrees: (me) lamb chops (cooked to a perfect medium rare) w/ green beans in a Romesco sauce w/ black olive tapanade & feta, (companions) Wagyu beef w/ oyster mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, onion confit & blue cheese. Dessert: a chocolate torte w/ golden raisin ice cream (and our waitress said that was its last night on the menu). One note: a pitcher of sangria should have yielded more than 3.5 glasses. Oh, another note: service was great, however, there was a UT MBA group (so said the waitress) seated in the bar area and there was a guy giving a presentation. His voice carried over so loudly, that it made the end of the meal rather unpleasant.

Dinner at Hyde Park Bar & Grill (Westgate location) with a friend and her two kids on Wed. night. I guess I've never "actually" reviewed it. It's a good 'ol standby though. We split the Asian Chicken Salad, which is rather large, and one of their nightly specials, a fried chicken done in a honeyed-cornflake crust, came with 2 sides, so mashed potatoes and creamed corn. Really nice crust on it. The kids didn't complain with their cheeseburger and grilled cheese sandwich, and we got to eat their well-known fries that the kids didn't. Quick, efficient & kid-friendly.

A quick stop for a Chinese BBQ pork bahn mi at the Lulu B's trailer for today's lunch. I really had only intended on eating half the sandwich, and saving the rest, but it was too darn tasty not to eat all at once!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Clay Pit

I could have sworn I had written about one of my favorite places before, but scanning the history of my own blog, it appears not. Whooops! So the Clay Pit has been around for at least 10 years, making it almost as historic as the building it occupies! It's in a beautiful old stone (limestone?) building, an old trading post & general store that dates back to the 1850s. And apparently haunted, but that's another issue.

My friend and I had a 7 pm reservation for Friday night. We were greeted promptly and immediately escorted to our table. On the walk back to the table I noticed that CP doesn't have any 2-tops. The majority of the diners that were already seated were parties of two, all sitting at tables for four. Kind of nice they don't cram us into smaller tables!

I ordered a glass of Hogue Gewertztraminer and my constant downfall, the Khuroos-e-Tursh; my friend ordered a cocktail, the Tikka Masala, and some veggie samosas and garlic naan to split. A another waiter brought the drinks, and inquired "Hogue Fume Blanc?" I said I had ordered the Gewurtz. He apologized, and disappeared. Our first waitress came back and said something to the effect of "I see you got your drinks" to which I replied he had brought the wrong one. With a touch of annoyance, she said, "Well I TOLD him the Hogue Geturz. He must of misunderstood." She didn't exactly apologize, and that set her tone for the rest of the evening. More on the service in a sec.

She had brought pappadums, a thin, crisp cracker-bread that are toasted in a skillet. There was already a dish on the table with two condiments, tamarind sauce, and a green cilantro-y one. I love the tamarind, and it went really nicely with the samosas, which were fried to perfection, not greasy, and still hot. They had a mashed potato filling with green peas and some spices. Very mild in flavor, but complimented nicely by the tangy tamarind. Our main dishes came soon after. One of my "problems" with CP is that I am totally addicted to the sauce that comes with the Khuroos. It's chicken stuffed with spinach in a luscious creamy almond & cashew sauce, with a bit of spice to it, and I could eat the sauce all day long. So my problem is since I don't eat there very often, I almost always have to get that dish, and therefore I don't know the other menu items well at all. But I have always had great luck with the dish, and have turned many other people onto it. This time, I asked for a little extra sauce to go with it, knowing that I would take it home a cook a piece of chicken up the next night for dinner. (Dinner the next night was lovely! Leftover sauce, basmati rice & naan!) The waitress mentioned that it's the korma sauce, which never occurred to me, and now maybe that will make it slightly easier to find a recipe to make it. I've searched for a khuroos recipe before to no luck, and have come "this close" to writing to Bon Appetit or Gourmet, and asking them to get the recipe. Heaven! My friend's tikka was good too, but sorry, nothing compares to my sauce!

The food was great. No issues. It was our server who was just brusque/brisk most of the evening. Maybe she felt the need to turn the table quickly to increase her personal revenue, but definitely not a real gracious host. I will of course, continue to go back, just maybe not on a Friday night. And looking at the fairly pathetic picture my cell phone takes, I am resolving to carry my camera more!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Evangeline Cafe (& KC Donuts too!)

Everyone needs a bit of Cajun food in their lives, and it's just too bad that I don't go seeking it out very often. Evangeline Cafe is pretty far south down Brodie Lane, but it's hard not to enjoy the atmosphere (even if it is in a strip mall) and friendly service once you're there. See their picture on the website; you can sort tell there's decor all over the place, from LSU Tigers to Mardi Gras to the wall-mounted duck that was "flying" above our heads! It's a great mish-mash of Cajun culture.

Arriving just before noon today, the parking lot was full, and my dining companion and I thought we may have made a mistake. However several tables were available, and while there were just two of us, the hostess happily put us at a four-top. They've got six daily lunch specials, and I was torn between a po-boy and the chicken-fried steak with cajun cream gravy. The gravy won out. The CFS comes with a side salad, which I ordered the remoulade dressing to go with it. The salad (basic green salad, all fresh, nothing overly exciting) came in about 2 seconds, and shortly thereafter, the half-order of thin sliced onion rings came as well. Their rings are delicious! I remember them from a previous visit, a couple of years ago. They are very lightly seasoned, fried up, and also served with the remoulade. Yum!

So a fat piece of CFS arrived with a huge bowl of gravy, slightly dirty rice, and a piece of toast. Very nice breading on it, and when I say fat piece, I mean it! It was thick, a bit thicker than I usually see for CFS, but the meat was also underseasoned. It definitely needed salt. A good dunk the gravy helped too! The rice was rather boring. My friend's catfish po-boy was large, and apparently quite tasty. It was accompanied by homemade potato chips, thick cut and not greasy. We both ate half our meals, and got boxes for the rest. Sort of regretting not getting a po-boy, but the gravy was tasty. In retrospect, I may not eat the rest of the CFS, but I think I'll make some biscuits to go with my gravy!

While we were fat and fairly happy, we couldn't resist going into KC Donuts, which is a couple doors down. All I really wanted was ONE donut hole, but they only sell them by the dozen (for $1.99). Ouch! Twist my arm! We asked if he would split a mixed dozen into two bags, which he was happy to do. Or maybe because he thought we're cute. :) And, I think because it was about an hour from closing time, he added extras to the bag; I think we each got 10! And darn, they're good! Cake donuts are my favorite, and so far I've eaten a chocolate and regular hole, and a glazed non-cake style. Great texture, not too sweet. Glad that place isn't real close to my house!

So, let the good times roll!