Monday, August 15, 2011

The Park at the Domain - 11601 Domain Dr, Austin, TX 78758

Do you like eating brunch?  Sure you do.

Do you like having conversations with your friends while you're eating?  Probably.

Do you like wearing shorts when it's 125-degrees outside?  It's a damn near necessity.

So what's my point?  That you should pass right on by The Park if you like doing the above things.  They apparently don't allow baggy clothes, especially shorts, or wife-beater tees.  It's fine to have a dress code, but when you fail to include this dress code on your website -- where people go to get information about your establishment -- you're going to piss off some people.  Yeah, maybe you don't give a shit that you pissed *these* people off.  After all, they were dressed for the Austin heat, and we just can't support that insane idea at Park at the Domain.  But word of mouth is a powerful thing.  That's all I'm saying.

As far as having conversations while you're eating, you best remember to have your loudest friends in tow.  Because that one timid, bashful friend with the voice as delicate as a tulip?  You won't hear a thing she has to say, if she bothers to say anything at all, and this is even if your group sits outside.  I couldn't hear the three women sitting two people away from me, so I had to smile, nod, laugh, and pretend I heard whatever joke was just told, all the while wishing we would just pay our checks and leave so we could go outside the restaurant where I could actually look into my friends' eyes instead of reading their lips.  Even once we got outside, we still had to speak loudly.  Also, Park, your DJ sucks ass.  I don't need no Lady Gaga at 200 decibels while I'm fighting a hangover.

Service wasn't bad.  Our waitress, for the most part, was on top of her game.  I noticed all the waitresses are young and modelesque.  I suspect it must be an employment requirement, like it used to be for stewardesses.  I have no desire to ever wait tables again, but I assume I'm not quite pretty enough to work here.  Wouldn't want to, anyway.  The horrible acoustics would render me deaf and insanely angry.

As far as the food, it was decent.  The brunch is $15, all you can eat.  They really didn't have that much food to offer, quite frankly.  My first plate consisted of some sort of cheesy rice casserole with carrots and broccoli, which I enjoyed.  Rice is really carby, though, and thus wreaks havoc with my blood sugar, so I only had one helping of this.  If my immune system wasn't such a bitch as to have given me type 1 diabetes, I would have helped myself to a plateful of this casserole alone.

Also somewhat enjoyed a scoop of green bean casserole, which involved cheese and french-fried onion strings.  My only problem with this dish was that another type of strings were still attached to the green beans.  These strings were attached to the beans when they grew and were picked, and they should be removed prior to cooking.  Why?  Because they're extremely difficult to chew.  If not for these pesky things, I would have enjoyed the dish a lot more.  For what it's worth, I have named this dish "green string casserole".

I put a delicious-looking rib on my second plate, along with a several scoops of green string casserole and caesar salad, but I was too full to eat much of anything on that plate.  The rib sat there taunting me.  I toyed with the idea of stuffing it in my face, but I declined.

Best chocolate chip cookie ever.  Park provides a whole table full of various desserts, all of which looked delicious.  I tried some sort of mousse petit four thingie, which made me thankful I'm not allergic to chocolate.  The chocolate chip cookie, though, had me devising ways of sneaking several more of them onto my person so I could take them home and sneak them INTO my person.  I nearly put a churro on my plate, but when I attempted to pick one up with the tongs, it seemed awfully hard.  No thanks.

Despite delicious desserts and somewhat-scrumptious casseroles, I can think of several other places I'd rather spend $15.  Eating a couple of sammiches at a quiet Jersey Mike's would be an excellent example.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Big Daddy's Burgers and Bar - 9070 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78758

The Bad Boy Grilled Cheese Burger was pretty bad.

Close-up of the Bad Boy Grilled Cheese Burger.  See the wimpy limpy bacon?

The Caucasian milkshake. It had a cherry once.
Much like "Big Daddy" Pollitt of Cat On a Hot Tin Roof hates mendacity, I, too, hate it.  I include people who hide things under the umbrella of mendacity; thus, Big Daddy's Burgers & Bar belongs in that list.

You'll find a short list of frozen drinks that sound incredible, from kahlua and espresso vodka of the Caucasian (still haven't figured out why they gave it that name), to the surprisingly tangy goodness of the frozen screwdriver.  What you WON'T find on this menu is prices.  There's a reason for this.  The reason is that you pretty much have to take out a small loan to afford a drink here.  Seeing the price ahead of time would likely cause you to order a simple iced tea instead.  The frozen screwdriver cost my friend nine bucks.  My Caucasian cost me $12, and it was in a regular pint glass.

Is it worth the $12, Catherine?

Unlike Vincent Vega, I didn't think the shake was "pretty fucking good".  Like Vincent Vega, I didn't think it was worth the money.  It wasn't even worth $5.  I normally like heavy pours, but this was too heavy to enjoy.  It was like they wanted to get me drunk so my taste buds would find just about anything there tasty.  Didn't work, though.  The particular alcohol they used didn't seem to go well with the ice cream.  A $12 adult milkshake will hit you a good hour later and make you realize you've had enough alcohol for the night, though, so perhaps it was slightly worth the price tag in that regard.  My friend said his frozen screwdriver was more like an adult slurpee.  Yeah, that makes sense.  If you have a second one, you'll likely be slurring and peeing yourself.  My friend felt pretty tipsy from the one a couple of hours later.

I ordered the Bad Boy Grilled Cheese Burger, and my friend got the Goodfella burger.  He said his burger was pretty good, but that he wouldn't actively seek it out again.  'Nuff said there, I think.  Mine was great in concept, but poor in execution.  Both our meat patties were vastly overcooked.  It's like, why did the waitress bother frigging asking us how we wanted our patties cooked if the chef was just gonna cook it well-done??  Don't get my hopes up like that, man.  I wanted blood oozing out of that patty, rather than just grease.

Something else wrong with this burger is that the grilled onions didn't dance well with the other ingredients.  The rest of the burger was doing the twist, while the grilled onions were doing the Roger Rabbit.  I guess I should explain what all else comes on this burger:  Top bun is a grilled cheddar cheese sammich with bacon; bottom bun is a grilled cheddar cheese sammich with jalapenos; and a fried egg made an appearance.

The bacon was undercooked and limp.  Ick!  I took it off the sammy.  Also took the jalapenos off the other sammy.  They didn't taste bad, or anything; I just didn't prefer them.  Also scraped off all the onions.  The burger was huge, so at least there was that.  I may have a big mouth sometimes, but it wasn't big enough to shove the burger into, so I had to take knife and fork to it.  No problem.  I got about halfway through it before I got full, which is fine because it just wasn't worth the calories and stomach acid anyway.

This burger cost me fourteen bucks on its own, but I got hit with a $1.50 fee for subbing onion rings for the fries.  The rings were the best things on the plate.  They had a nice kick to them.  The grilled cheese sammiches on their own, minus the wimpy limpy bacon and japs, were pretty tasty.  This meal cost me $28 before tip.  So glad my date paid for his own; I'd have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if I paid for both of us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lavaca Street Bar - 405 Lavaca St, Austin, TX 78701

Friend Monica once misunderstood another friend as calling this place Vodka Tree Bar.  It's cute and true, so it's going in the history books.  I'd been to Vodka Tree Bar a handful of times and enjoyed the free popcorn and strong drinks, but I'd never eaten their food.  Not until last night, that is.

Friends and I got tipsy at Ginger Man down the street and decided to move the party to Vodka Tree.  Why?  Because I was hungry, dammit.  I ordered the mini corn dogs, and others ordered the loaded nachos and garlic Ranch chicken wings.  Upon first bite of corn dog, friend James and I exclaimed, "Holy shit, these are almost as good as 219 West's corn dogs!"  While I suddenly regretted not having suggested 219 West as a post-tipsy venue, I was happy with my calorie-laden purchase.

Upon seeing "loaded nachos" on the menu, James expected them to contain strippers.  Unfortunately, they instead contained peppers.  But, hey, when in Austin...  Complain-y James complained, "I want the strippers on the nachos!  The waitress said they came with everything, dammit!"  Actually, the waitress said they came with a "plate of amazingness", and strippers aren't amazing, really.  Though, the menu did say the nachos were *loaded*, and most strippers *do* like to drink, so I can understand how James could have made that joking mistake.

And the nachos were pretty amazing.  It was difficult to get everything on one nacho chip, though.  All the japs were over there, and the sour cream was over here, and the guac was way over yonder (thankfully) so it wasn't a good literal mix.  And the chips began to sog, and therefore couldn't handle the weight.  Nonetheless, I shoved a few loaded chips in my loaded self.  At least the refried beans were spread about nicely.

I'm not normally a fan of flavored chicken wings, but these garlic-Ranch thingamajigs converted me.  The crispiest of crispy-ass breading on those mothers, with this fabulous Ranch-y creaminess and garlicky tang, and Ranch and bleu cheese dressings on the side.  And then, friends Chris and Mickey dipped popcorn in the bleu cheese.  I tell you what, if you've had enough to drink, bleu cheese popcorn is the next big thing.  Willing to bet it tastes decent sober, too.

Speaking of popcorn, I probably ate three pitchers-full on my own.  I popped so much popcorn in my popper that my jeans' button nearly popped.  Popcorn fights broke out, with popcorn ending up down we ladies' shirts.  I found a piece of popcorn in my bra when I got home.  I ate it and passed out.

To drink, I started out with a Jack and Coke, which is something I never do because I drink diet sodas and don't especially like Jack.  However, I wanted several more of Vodka Tree's Jack and Coke drinks.  After the first, I tried a sip of James' girly birthday-cake shot.  Rimmed with red sugar, I imagine that even Miss Strawberry Shortcake wouldn't taste as sweet if you ate her *cherry pie*.  I ordered a girly berfday shot of my own, apologized to my pancreas, and took a sip.  Friend Quani jokingly criticized me for sipping, but honestly, it tasted so good I wanted to savor it.  I followed this up with a Lone Star and another pitcher-full of buttery popcorn.

That kept me satisfied on the drive to Hideout Pub, until I got pulled over on 6th St for speeding.  Luckily for me, friend Thresher once showed me a trick to get out of getting a ticket.  And no, it doesn't involve cash or bra-removal, or even popcorn.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peached Tortilla - Moving Target, Austin, TX

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.  Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.  Then God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered into a single basin, so that the dry land may appear." And so it happened.  Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth vegetation: every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it." And so it happened.

Then God helped Eric Silverstein create The Peached Tortilla, and God had to take more than the Sabbath Day off because it was so fucking delicious.  And what a handsome lad Eric is, too.

Whether you believe in God or not, believe in The Peached Tortilla.  Good eats, good employees...  So glad I found this place!

I follow them on Twitter, so I always know where they're gonna be.  I had tweeted to ask the first day I went, beforehand, where they would be for lunch that day.  When they tweeted back to me that they'd be in the Arboretum from noon until 2pm, I was all over it, intending to get there by noon.  Then, around 11:40, I got a tweet telling me, specifically, they were running late, but that they'd be at the Arboretum by 12:45.  That's class, folks.  Had he not tweeted that to me, I would have been there by noon wondering where on God's green earth they were.  Since the owner tweeted a warning to me, I knew not to show up until 12:45.  And the owner even knew who I was, based on my Twitter profile, when I showed up there.

First time I went, I got a bbq brisket tortilla (brisket, jalepeno slaw, and smoky roasted peach bbq sauce), and some Belgian fries with bacon Ranch dipping sauce.  Why is it that *I* can never think of putting bacon and Ranch together?  Seems like a natch, but I'm no culinary prodigy.  Thankfully for people like me, there ARE culinary prodigies who put these things together.

It wasn't the best brisket I've ever eaten, but it was still quite good, and the peach bbq sauce made my mouth beg for more, as did the bacon Ranch.  I couldn't eat all the fries, and that made me depressed for a few minutes.  But I felt better once it occurred to me that I could simply go back again and get more food some other day.

Since then, I've tried the catfish taco, on corn tortilla, and that has become my favorite item.  The crunchy cornmeal catfish... the cabbage, the creamy slaw, the spicy mayo... ohhhh, the foodgasm!  THE FOODGASM!  I'm going back again today for more, I tell you!

I now stalk Peached Tortilla.  When they're at the Arboretum, I'm there.  When they're at the Domain, I'm there.  They should come by my house, as I'm usually there, too.  I buy a brisket taco, a catfish taco, and a drink, and I slink away to hide and eat, carefully watching their activities, like a vice cop stalking a man propositioning a prostitute.

Okay, no, I don't stalk Peached Tortilla.  I've actually only been several times.  (Heh, yeah, ONLY several!)  But I plan to go back several MORE times to try a cornucopia of items.  I love the word "cornucopia".  I have a cornucopia of positive emotions when I try out Peached Tortilla's food.  And they always have a cornucopia of customers at their trailer.  And if I eat there often enough, I suspect I'll end up with a cornucopia of weight.


(Since I tried the banh mi slider on 7/6, I must write a quick update):

Eric Silverstein has written a love story, and it's called The Peached Tortilla. The main players of interest in this story are: 
Mr. Catfish Taco. He's a bit fishy, but don't let that stop you from getting to know him. 
Next, we have Sister Brisket Taco. She's corny, and a bit of a meat-head, but she's quite saucy for a nun. 
Finally, we have Miss Banh Mi Slider. She'll slide into your life and make you forget about all your problems. She may be a bit of a porker, but she's still sexy, and her kisses are quite delicious.
Pick up this love story and find out how these characters get along in their peachy world.  You won't be able to put it down.

Willie's Bar-B-Que and Burgers - 4505 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Austin, TX 78721


Spicy brisket

So I ventured here with a gaggle of Google Places users a couple of weeks ago to get the lay of the land, and the food here was so good that I wanted to lay down and stay a while, as bad as my grammar just was.

The brisket had the most wonderful, spicy dry rub on it, but the meat was unfortunately a bit too fatty for my taste.  I mean, do you like chomping on chewiness??  I sure don't.  Though, I did have chewier, fattier brisket that day at other places, to be fair.  I suppose it's difficult to trim away every single solitary piece of naturally-occurring fat.  Despite the fat, I enjoyed what I chewed.

More importantly and deliciously about Willie's, though, is the boudin.  Boudin is white sausage with cajun spices and pork rice dressing.  I admit, I'm not much of a sausage fan, but the spices and pork rice dressing make this dish damn near as delicious as chocolate, in my book.  It was as spicy as all get out, and the texture of moist rice dressing in soft, warm sausage was a god-send.  I kept hoping the other people in my party would hate the boudin so that I could hog it all to myself.  But they didn't.  So then I started devising in my mind various covert missions to sneak as much boudin onto my plate as possible.  This was made significantly easier by the fact that I was sitting nearest the boudin platter, and that none of my friends seemed to mind that I wanted to stuff my face with the cajun stuffing.

So, will I go back to Willie's for more cajun boudin?  Uhhhh... is Mardi Gras a good excuse to get drunk??

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jersey Mike's Subs - 10001 Research Blvd, Austin, TX 78759

I admit it, the first time I went here a few years ago, I hated my sammich. The bread was waaaaay too soft, and the ingredients tasted off.

Well, the bread was still a bit too soft for my taste today, but the rest of the sammich sent my taste buds into orbit. That sammich really was outta this world. I got the club supreme, with mayo and lettuce. Almost got oil and vinegar on it, but decided against it at the last moment. But I now see that oil and vinegar would taste excellent on this sammy. Next time.  I still think Potbelly has the best subs in town, but Jersey Mike's will get some occasional biz from me.

It's a little expensive, though. A regular sammich with a regular drink cost me over $8.  Hey, Mike, your sammiches aren't THAT great.  At those prices, you'd have me thinking there's gold in the mayo.  So, the sammiches may be outta orbit, but so are the prices.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

G'Raj Mahal - 91 Red River, Austin, TX 78701

Finally got around to trying this place, and I've gotta say, G'Raj and Bombay Bistro are battling it out on my taste buds for bestest Indian food in town. The saag paneer is simply delicious. Great, creamy cubed cheese, fantastically tasty and healthy spinach, and even a nice spicy kick. Great with their rice and garlic naan. I absolutely fell in love with the food.  To the point that I would almost be willing to buy a house on Rainey St and deal with the constant influx of people, just so I could be close enough to get my fix on a regular basis.  

My taste buds can't decide between Bombay Bistro and G'Raj Mahal.  I think I need to stage a food war on my tongue.  I need to figure out some way to get food from both places (and ensure both stay hot enough in the meantime).  That'll be hard, considering how far away from each other they are.  But if I manage to pull it off, I can see how it would go:

Bombay Bistro comes out of the corner with a delicious belt to the left taste buds.  G'Raj Mahal, a south paw, fights back with a  tasty punch to the tongue...
My only complaint about G'Raj Mahal is the price. $11 I paid for maybe a cup/cup-and-a-half of the saag paneer. It's Indian food, not gold. Sheesh!