Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Alamo Drafthouse asks for menu help

The Alamo Drafthouse is asking for help with their menu.  They need it.  I love the Drafthouse, and don't watch movies anywhere else, but that's because they don't allow kids and the patrons are very well behaved.  After all Ann Richards will take your ass out. 

Food has always been an afterthought for me at the Drafthouse.  I'm pretty sure the first time I went was 12 years ago, and I had heard all the raves about the food, particularly the burgers.  It was awful.  The burger was dry and tasteless.  It was the first of many food disappointments to come from their kitchens.

I know they have a real chef and their food is supposed to be restaurant quality, but it just isn't.  Their food is nothing more than overpriced concession stand food.  In fact, the Pizza Patron at the American Airlines Center was better than anything I've had at the Drafthouse.  But you know what?  That's OK.  I've come to accept it.  They do a great job with the movie going experience and with providing an entertaining time for a really great price.  I really love the place and have had many great times there.  So I don't expect their food to be five star.  Anything they have is better than what you can get at Tinseltown, Gateway, or Santikos.

What does bug me is the praise heaped on the food by palate-dead Austinites. The comments are filled with gushing reviews of the food at the Alamo.  All I can think is that most of those people has never had a good meal.  I'm all for helping the Alamo to make better food, but let's ease off on the accolades for glorified concession stand food.

I still love you Alamo Drafthouse, and I'm looking forward to better food.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Torcy's Green Chile Queso

Torchy's tacos are known for their creatively named tacos (The Dirty Sanchez [don't google that], Mr. Pink, Trailer Park), high quality ingredients and the great flavor combinations. This however, is not a review of their tacos, but of their delicious Green Chile Queso.

this is a terrible photo.

The queso is filled with green chiles and is topped with a hearty amount of queso fresco, cilantro, quacamole and Torcy's Diablo sauce (a habanero chile sauce which is now being bottled and sold). It is served with freshly made chips that are lightly salted which is great because this queso can have the tendency to be a little salty. It doesn't matter: this queso is delicious and addictive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Selena Gomez and the Cult of Borden

Selena Gomez loves Borden, and the checks they send to her account.

Borden makes great tasting dairy products.  I don't know what they do to it to make it taste better than other milk, but they aren't lying when they say it tastes better.  Of course you pay a premium for it (and no doubt for Selena's salary), so that means Borden does not make it to my refrigerator.

It seems Selena Gomez has convinced Sun Harvest of the superiority of Borden as they appeared to have kicked Oak Farms out of their store.  A recent sour cream purchase reflects this.

I've now joined Selena's Cult of Borden.
Until my next visit to HEB.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lick It Bite It or Both

The recent emergence of cupcakes as the “it” dessert (macarons are making a move) has spurred the opening of many new cupcake bakeries in Austin. Lick It Bite It or Both (yes, that is actually the name) is one of these newly opened cupcake shops in north Austin. They, like Gypsy Rose Lee, have a gimmick – they also serve homemade ice cream.
I ventured in with two equally sweets loving friends to give this place a shot. We ordered three cupcakes – Vanilla, Mimosa and Red Velvet.
The icing on the vanilla cupcake was delicious – sweet, great texture and a beautiful shade of blue. Sadly, the cupcake itself managed to have a mealy, yet overly buttery texture – the flavor was there, but something was definitely off. The mimosa cupcake (citrus flavored cupcake with a champagne icing) was better than the vanilla – it even had glitter (or Disco Dust as it was called on Top Chef: Just Desserts) on the top which was a nice touch. The most disappointing of the three was the red velvet. The cupcake tasted bland and the icing could have used not only a stronger cream cheese flavor but a heartier dollop of icing on top to even out the dryness of the cupcake.
I am actually quite worried to post this review. The owner has a history of posting responses to negative reviews on Yelp (the delete, edit, repost, delete, edit and repost again until he comes up with a response that he is satisfied with) but I’m here to give my honest opinion.
I do think this shop has its share of promises. The samples of ice cream were delicious – especially the cake batter and coconut flavors. The owner, who was working the counter that day, was very nice in person (online might be a different story) and customer service really makes a difference in my book. I’ll also say that it is a relatively new place and they may still be working on perfecting their cupcake recipes. In the meantime I’ll stick with Betty Crocker. (Me skipping out is actually a good thing -the owner donates the cupcakes at the end of the day to Ronald McDonald charities around Austin!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pre-made Goodness

Sometimes I crave a nice piece of toast with butter. Sadly, my apartment kitchen doesn't have a lot of counter space. It's already crammed with my starter espresso machine, a microwave, a paper towel holder, and a canister where I keep all the utensils that don't fit into my kitchen drawers (my kitchen really sucks). There is no way I could ever fit a toaster in there. Luckily, someone thought of me when inventing this:

The chef bear is adorable,
but this would be more amazing if they'd gotten Powdered Toast Man to be their spokesperson.

XOCO loco

I wanted to add to LILS mention of the wonderful XOCO. Soup + Sandwich. Whoever decided that those two items should be combined - not just next to each other, but one served inside the other - is a genius. Oh wait, that would be Rick Bayless: He whose voice could engage me on an NPR-type radio show about Mexican food filled with enough descriptors that I wouldn't care that I couldn't see the food, He who won the first round of Top Chef: Masters by creating a mole dish that I still dream of trying, and He, the man that I love almost as much as Lils does. I was fortunate enough to visit XOCO in May 2010 on an outing in Chicago with the lovely Lils. I tried Ahogada and it really is everything Lils said it was. But, what I wanted to mention was soft serve ice cream. What?! I go eat at one of the most exciting restaurants in Chicago and want to talk about soft serve?


The ice cream of the day was homemade soft serve ice cream topped with a maple-pecan BACON-streusel with salted caramel sauce.

The combination of the salty and sweet was so delicious that I am about to stuff a piece of bacon in an ice cream sandwich to see if it even compares (it won't...but I'll try it anyways). We kinda went overboard on desserts (seriously, we ordered like 6), but out of all of them the one I'll remember is my first bacon topped ice cream.


That's how my momma says sandwich. And I bet if I took her to Xoco, Rick Bayless' third Chicago restaurant focusing on his take on Mexican street food, she would say, "This is one damn good sahn-wees." Well, the Spanish version of that.

I don't know what streets of Mexico Rick Bayless is walking down, but I'm sure glad he brought those streets to Chicago. I've never had a sandwich dipped in broth in Mexico before, but it's how I want to eat ALL my sandwiches from now on.

That there is the torta Ahogada: carnitas with black beans in a spicy arbol chile sauce and a tomato broth for dipping.

By the way, I am in love with Rick Bayless. Like, for reals. The only old man I lust after and it's all because of how he cooks Mexican food.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hilton Anatole Media Grill + Bar - Dallas, TX, July 23, 2010

Sliders.  They look tasty, they look fun, but what arrives is almost always disappointing.  The meat is overcooked, there are probably no condiments on the bread, the cheese is the size of a dime, and the bun is so awful you tear up a little.

After leaving our Lady Gaga drinks at the Victory Tavern we proceeded back to our hotel, the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.  I choose this hotel specifically because they have two bars open until 2AM.  It is a beautiful and huge hotel near downtown Dallas.  How wonderful is it?  I'll let a quote from a random girl about to get on the elevator as I was getting off describe it, "I didn't know this place would be like Gossip Girl!".  I'll take some Blair with a side of Vanessa please.  So, with our ever increasing hunger, and with two bars to choose from we went for the one with the word "grill" in the name.

While the Media Grill + Bar has a full menu during the day and evening, only a bar menu is available after 10PM.  Looking over the eight to ten options on the bar menu I was faced with potentially unsatisfying choices, and of those, sliders were the best option.  I placed the order and took in the atmosphere.  The bar itself was actually really nice.  It is rectangular in shape with plenty of TVs on each side to keep guests entertained.  Due to the late hour the TVs had been turned over to the video DJ.  The videos seemed to be tailored to the tastes of 90s music lovers, which is a good thing.  Having received a large dose of Gaga in the previous three hours the music was like comfort food for the ears.

Our sliders arrived and my first thought was "I paid $14 for three sliders and some fries?"  They were dry, with only buns, meat, and cheese.  I asked for mayo and mustard.  Ten minutes later (seriously) the condiments arrived and I applied them as I do to nearly every sandwich I eat.  After one bite I knew these were the best sliders since Quinn and Rembrandt graced our TVs.  They were juicy and were well seasoned giving them a good meaty flavor.  The fries were excellent, thin, crispy, tasty, and perfect with ketchup.  My date said, "these are the best sliders we've ever had.", and she was right.  We wanted another order, but our empty wallets couldn't justify it.  With time running short and our Gaga meters running low we requested Lady Gaga from the video DJ and were rewarded with some Poker Face.  Right as we were feeling good again with full stomachs and just the right buzz, it was closing time, "Time to slide Q-Ball!"

It was a good night.  I ate the first sliders I've ever enjoyed and did Chuck Bass proud by ending the night with four women in my hotel room, and I wasn't even wearing any purple.

XOXO Jimbo

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cafe Java on Metric - Austin, TX, August 7, 2010

I worked and lived near the Cafe Java on Metric for five years before eating there.  I had not heard anything bad about it, but since I don't drink coffee, there wasn't a lot of appeal there for me.  Someone eventually dragged me there in 2007 and it was a close-to-home breakfast revelation.

Cafe Java has become the go-to place for weekend breakfast, replacing previous favorite Jim's.  While Polvo's breakfast tacos (their only worthwhile menu item) and Juan In a Million's Con Queso Breakfast are still all time favorites, the distance, time, and trouble to get there make them special occasion breakfasts.  Unlike Polvo's however, the service is always prompt and friendly, and unlike Juan In a Million, wait times are reasonable and the restaurant is not full of hungover students and hipsters.  It is mostly full of people who were formerly hungover students and hipsters. 

We try to eat breakfast at home as it is one of the easiest and cheaper meals to make ourselves, and it never disappoints.  Cafe Java breakfast never disappoints either.  Their breakfast sausage and biscuits are amazingly tasty.  I don't even care if the sausage might be basic Sysco brand, it's very flavorful and has the perfect blend of breakfast sausage type spices.  The biscuits are very tasty, and split in half with the right amount of butter from being toasted on the griddle.  The best way to sample both of these delights are with the Hill Country Breakfast that is normally available on weekends.

Hill Country Breakfast has two eggs, two sausage patties, hash browns, two biscuits, and gravy.  I ask for no gravy and a small side of queso.  I'm not a big potato eater and I was getting tired of ketchup on the hash browns.  The queso has been a welcome addition.

I forgo the gravy as I use one biscuit to eat the eggs and sausage and the second biscuit purely as a dessert biscuit.  Cafe Java has individual sized Kraft jellies and jams that contain no high fructose corn syrup.  I can't find sausage this good in the store and we haven't been able to duplicate the biscuit at home.  On this particular day the only to-go container I needed was my stomach.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Victory Taven - Dallas, TX, July 22, 2010

Lady Gaga drinks

Unfortunately there was no "Paperazzi Pizza" or the "Alejandro Antipasto".

Victory Tavern - Dallas