Friday, January 29, 2010

Responsible and Delicious - Yukon River Salmon at RDG

We're glad to see all sorts of responsible movements happening in the world of food.  One of our favorites is the focus on sustainable sources - the last thing we want to experience is the disappearance of great ingredients, leaving us to dine on Soylent Green burgers (We've heard they taste like chicken.)

We recently attended a dinner at the swanky new RDG that was focused on an ingredient with a great story: Yukon River Salmon.  It's a wild salmon that has been harvested for centuries by the Yup'ik Eskimos, and they have partnered with Kwik Pak Fisheries to turn their staple food into a source of income for their tribe.  The Yup'ik harvest the salmon at the mouth of the Yukon river, before the arduous journey upstream, while the fish are vibrant and full of nourishing oils (rich in Omega 3 fatty acids).  The Yup'ik tribe is a careful steward of this resource (it is literally their primary source of food) so it's a prime example of a carefully managed, sustainable resource.

But how does it taste?  We got to find out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Testing the Hype: BBQ Ribs at Jasper's

We're fans of Jasper's, the upscale restaurant concept from Dallas's Kent Rathbun.  We love pretty much everything about their Woodlands location, from the great spot overlooking the Market Street park to the gorgeous modern interior to the excellent service to the creative takes on traditional Texas favorites.  We've been many times, and consider it to be one of the best restaurants in both the Woodlands and the entire Houston area.

But a recent show on TV got our attention.  The claim:  Bon Appetit magazine ranked Jasper's BBQ ribs as their third-best ribs in the nation.  That's a serious claim, and it runs contrary to our First Tenet of BBQ Wisdom:  The Fancier the Store, the Worse the BBQ.

Since we love BBQ almost as much as we love a great burger, we had to test out the claim for our readers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Market Square Bar & Grill

Ah, Market Square.  One of the few areas of Houston where history matters, and where you'll find places that have been the same for decades.  On the eastern edge of the square, you'll find the Market Square Bar & Grill, a place that's known for good food as well as strong libations.  We'd been here before, years ago, and really enjoyed it.

This trip... not so much.

We were there a bit after 5; prime happy hour time.  And it was empty; only one group besides our party.  Yet the service was glacially slow - the waitress seemed to be more interested in chatting with the cook than doing her job.

Once we got her attention, we placed our order.  And waited longer.  A burger and a salad should not take 20 minutes to prepare.  Hopefully it'll be worth the wait.

Well, it wasn't.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Valet Parking? What do you think?

A recent discussion on Twitter has me thinking about the valet parking situation in Houston.  It's a hot button with many restaurant patrons.

I don't have a problem with valet parking at restaurants that don't have convenient parking nearby.  At these establishments, the valets perform a valuable service.

But I don't have much patience for restaurants with ample parking, who cone off the closest parts of their lots for valet use.  There would be plenty of parking... if the valets weren't there.

I also don't like having things taken from my cars, and I've several small, valuable items mysteriously disappear when valets have custody of the car.  Even worse, I've had my car keyed one evening, after I declined the valet's rather aggressive "offer" to park my car for me.

Responses on Twitter have been heated; one local celebrity chef is adamant in his support for valets, and unfollowed us for taking part in this discussion.

What do you think about valet parking?  Respond in the comments.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Burger Fresh in Conroe

Burger Fresh was ranked #13 in the state of Texas by Texas Monthly magazine, and we'd been meaning to check them out and see how they live up to the hype. So on a recent voyage to Conroe, we stopped in.

Burger Fresh is easy to find. It's located in a strip center a couple of blocks off I-45, right in the heart of town. Immediately you can tell that this isn't part of a big chain; the front of the store has a funky style all its own.

Upon entering the store, we were immediately met by the rich aroma of fried beef - not an unwelcome scent in a hamburger joint.  Looking around the medium-sized dining room, we saw a space filled with folks of all ages and from all walks of life devouring burgers.  Our kind of place.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Texas Monthly - Who Should We Put on the Cover?

Recently, Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) asked the Twitterverse who they should put on the cover.

Our suggestion? Jonathan Jones (aka @PapaBeav), chef and partner at Beaver's Ice House.

C'mon, Texas Monthly. Do it. (And no, that isn't a real Texas Monthly cover. It's a parody. For now.)

Why? Because Jonathan Jones's kitchen is turning out perhaps the best example of real Texas cuisine in the state. Fresh gulf seafood, expertly prepared. Burgers that are among the best anywhere. Excellent BBQ. Mac and Cheese that's considered by many to be the best in town. Their bar even initiated the cocktail revival that's sweeping across Houston. Heck, Beaver's was our Restaurant of the Year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Second Visit to Grimaldi's in the Woodlands

A few weeks ago we made our first visit to Grimaldi's (@GrimaldisPizza) and we were very disappointed. But we've heard so many good things about this Brooklyn-based chain that we had to give them a second try. (And the fact that there are very few good pizza joints in the Woodlands entered in to the equation as well.)

We're glad we gave them a second shot.

On this visit, all of our complaints with Grimaldi's legendary thin crust pizza were gone. The pepperoni had a nice savory tang, and the tremendous grease which ruined our last pizza was noticeably absent. The sauce (still sparingly applied) was sweet and very slightly spicy; we see how folks could be blown away by this sauce.

The result? A delicious pizza; perhaps the best thin crust pizza we've sampled. Grimaldi's is now in our regular rotation for casual dining in the Woodlands.