Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bits and Druthers

Friday night, we took a walk on the East Side, starting with East Side Show Room for happy hour, followed by dinner at the East Side Drive-In trailer park. Contentment was found by all! 

A dear friend was visiting from out of town, and we picked ESSR as the spot to meet up with two other friends. When we arrived at 6 pm, there weren't many people inside, but by 6:15pm, the place was hopping! The bar got a little backed up making our cocktails, but they do make all of their concoctions from scratch, from the simple syrups to the infusions. I had a Moscow Mule, which may be a new favorite! We also got the artfully presented cheese plate, with three lovely local cheeses and homemade jams and mustards to pair with each other; wish I had caught the name of the cheeses, but I think Dirty Goat was one of them. We also got the fried beets, which were served with a pesto and a chiffonade of something fried on top -- little thin crispy green strips. Quite tasty. 

I've been to ESSR one other time to meet up with friends; only had a drink then. I really would love to have a full-on meal there sometime; they are really committed to local and seasonal, and the menu sounds interesting. Someday.

We then walked across the street to the food trailer park, where there should be something for everyone: the No. 19 Bus, Local Yolk, Ugly Banjos, Vegan Yacht (closed that night), Pig Vicious, Pueblo Viejo, Love Balls, and a tapas place I didn't catch the name of. I think that's all the trailers there! But it's a perfect place for people with different tastes -- we took up shop at one of the tables, and then everyone could go pick food for themselves, like a food court at the mall, just a million times better. 
I was itching to try the fish and chips from Bits and Druthers (British pub grub), having recently heard their praises. I got the large order ( $7, vs. $5 for the small), and figured my friends would want to try. It's presented to you in a piece of white butcher paper, wrapped up in a cone. Back at our table, a bounty of food had been found, from a grilled veggie sandwich from the No. 19 (cheesesteaks, American food) to the Jimmy Crack Chicken at Ugly Banjos (homestyle cookin') and the takoyaki (octopus) balls and yaki-onigri (rice balls) from the Love Balls Bus  (Japanese street food).
You can sort of tell from the picture, that was a HUGE piece of fish (turbot, in fact)!  And it was delicious! It was a touch greasy, but I think only because they didn't give it time to rest on paper towels after frying. Great batter on it, made with locally made Real Ale, and a very tender fish. The fries are a nice size, and both go well with the homemade tartar sauce. And I used my Go Local card for a free drink. Win win! I had bites of everyone else's food, and except for the tako balls, everything was really good. The tako balls were a bit of an odd texture -- yes, it IS octopus -- but unfortunately, didn't sit too well with the primary eater. The garlickly rice balls were quite good though. 

It was also just the perfect night for sitting outside; the weather cooled off a bit, and there was a bit of a breeze. And, it's nice to see that East Side Drive-in is getting people, and in fact the place was rather busy. Lots of kids, families. And, for future reference, you can BYOB. Plus, they've got on-site recycling going on for the plastic and glass bottles. Hopefully, the SoFi food court can start attracting some of this kind of business.

Sidebar: My friend who was visiting used to live here, but hadn't been to ATX in 5 years. She was stunned by all the changes, like the growth of downtown and the food trailer culture. We had 2+ days of great eating! 

Friday (the food listed is what we both had, not just me!):
La Patisserie -- almond croissant, morning bun and toasted almond macarons
Ruby's BBQ -- pulled pork sandwich, Elgin sausage plate
Opal Divine's -- 512 Black IPA and Divine Peach Lemonade
East Side Drive-in -- detailed above

Curra's -- breakfast tacos, Oaxacan coffee, oj
Frank -- Jackalope, porked plain dog, corn up, poutine and waffle fries
The Gingerman -- 512 Wit and Pyramid Apricot
Asti -- calamari,  margarita-esqe pizza, carbonara, risotto, pasta special (ditalini with pancetta, white beans in light tomato sauce), cauliflower and spinach sides, tirimisu, affugato, cheese plate. And yes, this is a lot of food for three people; I am friends with Chef Jason Donoho's mother and aunt, he saw me come in, and sent the pizza and two of the desserts over! Overly generous and delicious!

Magnolia Cafe -- french toast, omlettes

I am well-fed.


A new trailer discovery!

Ate on a recent Saturday night at the relatively new Arancini, which is located at South First and Live Oak in the SoFi trailer park (neighbors to Fried Green Tomato whom I like, and two others which I haven't yet tried). They have a catchy orange trailer that looks to be outfitted with all new equipment. We had their namesake arancini risotto balls, the mixed green salad with poached egg, bacon, blue cheese & hazelnuts, and a grilled flatbread with sausage, peppers & onions.

The food was really really good, particularly the arancini balls, which had bits of bacon in them, which was a nice touch, and as much as you know that I love the pig, these were just well-fried and tasty and mozzarella oozy. The salad was very fresh, with a nicely poached egg oozing on top. The flat bread was good, nice that it was grilled, but it could have just used a bit more flavor and oomph, like from some red pepper flakes. 
I will most definitely go back, especially since I don't live too far from them! They had some different stuff on the menu the night we were there than what's posted on their website. Hopefully, SoFi can attract more people to their little food court, because of the two I've tried there, they are both rockin' it!