Sunday, August 30, 2015

Table 57 at HEB: raising the bar for casual dining in Houston

Table 57@ HEB
5895 San Felipe, Houston 77057
Open daily for lunch and dinner; brunch on Sundays
Take out 

By Jane Feehan

It takes a bit of will power to grab a cart to shop for dinner at HEB when you know about Table 57, a casual restaurant with a beer and wine bar on the premises.  

Counter-order service may belie what’s ahead at this grocer-operated eatery: a hit parade of barbecued turkey, brisket, pulled pork, spare ribs, chicken and other smoked Texas specialties or bistro-style sandwiches, spicy tostadas, classic salads, traditional or trendy burgers, prime beef sliders with brie, Korean fried chicken and an array of interesting palate pleasers.

There’s not much to describe as casual about the food. Take for example, a simple turkey burger. They transform it into majestic kitchen art. It’s delivered with an avocado kale mash, grilled red onion, solegiatti (slightly dried) tomatoes, feta, arugula and sunflower sprouts. Match it up (or not) with a side of sweet potato fries, eye-popping onion rings, the more exotic Tare-grilled okra, or German-style red cabbage and you’ll be talking about this meal for weeks.  

For more out-of-the-ordinary, there’s Korean Fried Chicken, a crispy fried half bird with a mild chili
Korean Fried Chicken
glaze, plated with kimchi mash and Asian braised greens. Sample Tuscan-grilled tuna atop cannellini beans and greens or the spinach, avocado and grapefruit salad. These dishes make it tough to believe this is grocery store dining.
Table 57 (named for the zip code in its address), offers barbeque by the plate or pound, smoked “with Texas Post oak for up to 13 hours,” a daily butcher’s cut featured on a chalk board at the counter, and small bites such as deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, fresh lobster salad or crispy Brussels sprouts. A hearty local beer or a decent wine is available to drink at the bar or to savor at a table.

Staff delivers food promptly, even during busy weekday lunch hours, and they get orders right. Several times I’ve asked them to omit an ingredient and each time it came as requested. The bar proves to be a friendly place to dine or to meet neighbors and new friends—despite uncomfortable bar stools and their struggle to pour even a half glass measure of wine (my only criticisms but it could be they don't want people to linger long). A live music lineup Friday evenings keeps the outdoor patio filled and patrons dancing.

With great food that includes mouth-watering desserts such as Texas Pecan Bread Pudding or Tres Leches, and a kids menu of hot dogs, mac n’ cheese, and chicken tenders, there’s little wonder so many would-be HEB shoppers never get past Table 57 …

Tags: HEB Grocery, Houston restaurants, Texas smoked barbeque, takeout food Houston Galleria. Tare-grilled, vegetarian-friendly in Houston

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Erawan, sad spin on "authentic Thai cuisine" - Houston Galleria

Authentic Thai Cuisine
Sage Plaza Shopping Center
5161 San Felipe, Houston 77056

Visualize a Sunday evening at prime dinner hour (about 7:15 p.m.) in a small, upscale shopping plaza with one restaurant abuzz with patrons and the eatery next door empty. I picked the empty one—Erawan.   

If I could see have seen from the outside that it was empty, I would not have entered but once inside the attractive establishment, I was hailed to sit down. OK, perhaps they do a bang-up takeout biz. But then a menu adorned with greasy finger prints was delivered, which is often a bad sign. It went downhill from there. 

Thawed-out-and-fried, dreary-tasting oversized spring rolls stuffed with shredded cabbage (and little else), accompanied by a thick, syrup-sweet, flourescent-pink bottled sauce proved to be a second warning salvo. 

The coup de grâce: what seemed to be a German interpretation of vegetable pad thai. By German, I refer to the heavy-handed use of vinegar with the noodles. That, and unappetizing chunks of tofu and a few, very few, sliced vegetables made for a nearly inedible mess. And where were the finely chopped peanuts? Not authentic Thai cuisine … not that evening anyway.

And nary a phone call or customer for takeout …and people waiting to get into the restaurant next door.

Tags: Thai restaurants in Houston Galleria, Houston restaurants, 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

True Foods Kitchen: Where healthy meets tasty in Houston

True Food Kitchen
1700 Post Oak Blvd., Ste 180 Houston, TX 77056
Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; 
Saturday: 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Brunch Saturday and Sunday 
By Jane Feehan

At True Food Kitchen it’s not about tasteless bean sprouts—nor fatty fries and cheeseburgers—but healthy options for vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters and all those in between who like good food. That’s just about everyone.

Medical doctor, teacher and author Andrew Weil teamed up with Phoenix restaurateur Sam Fox a few years ago to develop restaurants (Houston was number nine) offering an anti-inflammatory dining concept. Inflammation, the result of a modern diet overloaded with sugar, saturated fats and processed foods, is blamed for a number of ailments including heart disease, several forms of cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory approach to eating blends elements of Mediterranean and Asian diets with a Californian overlay of fresh ingredients and presentation. The True Foods menu embraces this philosophy offering whole grains (yes, even pizza) lean meat (try a turkey or bison burger), wild caught fish and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Kitchen wizards elevate health foods from dull to sparkling with healthful ginger, curry, and other worthy seasonings.

One of their most popular dishes, Red Chili Shrimp, sums up the True Kitchen approach.  An artful combination of shrimp, tossed with Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli), Shitake mushrooms and spinach over a bed of sesame noodles (a gluten free version also available) mildly accented with red chili spice could compete with dishes of a fine Thai eatery. 

Fellow diner ordered a light meal of a caramelized onion tart and salad of spinach, blueberry, beet, snap pea, cucumber, radish, goat cheese, and pistachio drizzled in lemon vinaigrette. More a flatbread presentation, the onion tart is complemented with thinly sliced fig.  Bursting with flavor, both plates deserve a curtain call.  Another diner sampled Turkey lasagna, not particularly savory or a good fit for the restaurant; it was recently (and wisely) removed from the menu. 

Only one of us wanted to venture into dessert nirvana with a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler. Replete with a dollop of vanilla ice cream, this confection was made to order and topped with oatmeal granola. Guiltless pleasure …

The menu offers a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks—all with a healthy yet flavorful spin. Patronized by a youngish crowd, and designed with high ceilings and open spaces, True Food Kitchen can get noisy at night, especially when the music is upped a few notches. A totally different fan club comes for takeout meals signaling hats off to their food if not the ambiance. If noise scares you away, dine outside or visit for lunch. Free parking is available and accessible from the front or the back of Boulevard Place, adjacent to Whole Foods.  (Post Oak and San Felipe)

Tags: Houston restaurants, Houston health food menu, Galleria area restaurants

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fort Lauderdale's Royal Pig Pub: Majestic fare

Royal Pig Pub
350 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Open: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-Midnight
          Friday/Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
          Sunday Noon -11 p.m.

By Jane Feehan

Awesome: Royal Pig Pub. Atmospheric and handsome, if not typically pub-cozy, this eatery delivers creative, high quality, sophisticated food that sets the bar (no pun intended) for other SOFLA establishments that embrace the gastropub concept.

Executive Chef Stanton Bundy brings Texas and New Orleans influences to a menu that includes bounteous sandwiches, inspired salads and main course marvels. Consider the Free range Creole Chicken Club with cheddar cheese, a delicately fried and oh-so-tasty slice of avocado topped with chipotle aioli. Enthusiasm for this creation precluded relegating any to  a common Styrofoam
Free Range Creole Chicken Club
container for takeaway. Blasphemy. Down the hatch it went with most of a side of parmesan truffle fries. The same for dining companions blissfully munching on palate-teasing Prime Beef Sliders, and a BBQ Rotisserie Pulled Pork sandwich crowned with coleslaw spicy mustard, American cheese and a fried pickle. The Rotisserie Free Range Turkey Club, encased in cranberry walnut bread, topped with cranberry compote, Vermont cheddar, bacon and avocado, tasted like Thanksgiving on a bun … and ranks among the best sandwiches I’ve eaten.

The roster of main plates (served after 5 p.m.) include New Orleans inspired BBQ Shrimp, and Seafood Gumbo. Texas-influenced Rotisserie Ribs and prime steaks join Free Range Rotisserie Chicken, “Fish of the Moment” and tons more to accommodate any craving, any appetite. The Royal Pig Pub serves fabulous fare on many holidays. Wallet-friendly, this pub offers fine cocktails, excellent wines and craft beers. And yes, the service lives up to the food.
Sophisticated, airy and New Yorkish

Parking available on the street or in a nearby parking garage.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale pubs, gastropub, Las Olas restaurants

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Crash landing on oil slick, Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale

Runway 84
330 Florida State rd. 84
Fort Lauderdale, 33315

Lunch, Tuesday-Friday
Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday

This airline-themed Italian eatery and lively bar with a three-decade history has an enthusiastic following. After a recent visit, I cannot say I am a member of that following.

Oil was in abundance in places it should not have been and was missing in another. This sad experience began with tasteless, slightly burned bread accompanied by a small dish of oil for dipping. We could not find the oil; the dish was mostly grated Parmesan with barely enough liquid to grace one slice of bread. Bread is usually the first sign of what’s to follow; this time was no exception.

Enter an appetizer of clams oreganata drowning in oil that should have come with the bread. Oil was not the only problem; the woebegone clams tasted as if they had been resurrected from the freezer. Onward. Mussels were delivered in a “sauce” that tasted more like water with a few dollops of tomato paste. It was miserably tasteless as was the house salad served with a gimmicky piece of salami holding a single sorrowful olive. Iceberg lettuce, a pepperconi here, a slice of tomato there, all drizzled in a bland dressing fit for a bottle off a grocery store shelf.

Denouement of this meal misery: two plates of pasta overloaded with oil. The rigatoni was perfectly prepared but swimming in cheap olive oil. So much broccoli rabe covered one dish that the pasta was hard to find. My plate was topped with a mushy mess of cauliflower and sliced mushrooms.

Runway 84 may be popular for their free meatballs on Thursday nights and grossly huge portions every night. It’s not cheap however; our pasta dishes were about $25 each.

To borrow from Edgar Allen Poe … Once upon a January Florida night cheery … deep into that dish peering, long I stood there wondering, really? Said this writer, NEVERMORE.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale restaurants, Italian restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, restaurants near Fort Lauderdale airport

Monday, November 24, 2014

U-Tiki Beach - Tropical Rhapsody in Jupiter

U-Tiki Beach
Jupiter Inlet Marina
1095 FL A1A
No website, find them and menu on Facebook

U-Tiki Hours: Mon-Thurs – 4-10 p.m.;Fri: 4-11 p.m.;  
Sat: 12-11 p.m.; Sun:12-10 p.m.

By Jane Feehan

Worth the long wait and a great addition to Jupiter Inlet restaurants, U-Tiki offers a stellar view of Jupiter Lighthouse and surrounding turquoise waters. It’s operated by the people who own Jetty’s next store. They know seafood. 

The U-Tiki menu offers a bounty of seafood choices, including sushi, cracked conch, fried oysters, shrimp, yellow tail, hogfish (or what’s running in nearby waters) and a tasty Jupiter fav—grouper cheeks.They also do steak, burgers, chicken, flatbreads, a variety of salads and a few interesting Caribbean  bowls  flavored with curry and coconut or almond and cream sauces. Lunch and dinner menus differ.

An appetizing dining experience (mahi mahi and chicken dishes we tried proves this point) is heightened by the open air Florida verandas and beach (Ok, ok … an engineered beach), and broad
walkway along the docks to Jetty's; this happy place is authentically tropical.     A large bar overlooking tables and the inlet provides the perfect place for meeting new people or bringing friends who want to party.
U-Tiki is open for lunch on weekends only, to the dismay of many, but it’s a tropical rhapsody otherwise. 

Tags: Jupiter waterside restaurants, U-Tiki, Jupiter inlet restaurant,Jupiter Inlet bar, Jane Feehan

Monday, November 10, 2014

Jet Runway Café, Fort Lauderdale: Calling all aviators – and foodies

Dining room with a view
Jet Runway Café
5540 NW 21 Terrace
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
Open Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30-2 p.m.
Beer and wine, catering

By Jane Feehan

Jet Runway Café, exactly as its name conveys, sits along a runway in a hangar at Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport. What this unique eatery lacks in exterior design (except for the airplane windows of its entrance), is more than made up for by the details of its interior and in its artful presentations from the kitchen. The café’s expanse of glass along its front and side affords all visitors a great view of the tarmac and planes taking off, landing or awaiting the next trip. Its appropriately high-ceiling, airy interior is decked out in a turbine and other aviation elements.  

We had standard breakfasts of eggs, potatoes, and a piece of their housemade light fried bread pudding (also available as a complete serving). Presentation here is all about the details: tiny cups with butter or catsup (no ugly bottles or alumium butter wrappers here); potatoes served in a small dish atop the plated eggs. Simple fare but beautifully delivered. They also serve Brioche Almond French toast, breakfast burritos, pancakes and house made coffee cakes.
Thoughtful presentation 
Service is excellent. I’ll be back for lunch during this next week and hope I can find a parking space. It was impossible last Friday at 1 p.m. and I think I know why. With good food, a great wait staff and an exceptional setting, what’s not to return for? Stay tuned …

Open for private parties (great venue) only during the evening.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale breakfast, runway restautants, unique restaurant Fort Lauderdale, private party venues, unique party venue, catering

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 - Broward and Palm Beach Counties

Below are restaurants open for Thanksgiving 2014 in Greater Fort Lauderdale and in Palm Beach County. Reservations required for most. Also listed are places serving take out/catered meals. Additional restaurants will be added as they finalize holiday plans.
Broward County

3030 Ocean (Marriott Harbor Beach) - 954-765-3030
3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale

Ambry - 954-771-7342
3016 E. Commercial Blvd., Fot Lauderdale 33308

Aruba Beach Café   954-776-0001
1 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale by-the-Sea
Regular hours  11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Beauty and the Feast - 954-567-8070
601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Blue Moon Fish Company – on the Intracoastal - 954-267-9888
4405 West Tradewinds Ave. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea 
Chart House - 954-561-4800
3000 NE 32 Ave (on the Intracoastal)
Fort Lauderdale 33308

Chatham House - 954-351-0310
4331 N. Ocean Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the- Sea

Checkers Old Munchen 954-785-7565
2209 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano

Chima 954-712-0580
2400 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Seasons 52 - 954-537-1052
2428 E. Sunrise Blvd. (Galleria)
Fort Lauderdale, 33304

Sea Watch - 954-781-2200
6002 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale 33308

Casablanca Café    954-764-3500
3049 Alhambra St., Fort Lauderdale
Open regular hours 11:30 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Steak 954 at the W Hotel - 954-414-8333
401 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale

Downtowner Saloon 954-463-9800
10 S. New River Drive East
South of New River, east of the Andrews Ave. Bridge, behind the Courthouse
Turkey dinner

GG’s Waterfront  (on the Intracoastal) – 954-929-7030
606 N. Ocean Drive, Hollywood

Grille 66 (waterside at Pier 66 Hotel) 954-728-3500
2301 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale, 33313

Café de Paris       954-467-2900
715 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Open at 5 - Turkey dinner $30; also regular menu

Mai-Kai – 954-563-3272 Check hours and shows
3599 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale

Marriott Harbor Beach     Main number 954-525-4000
3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale
Ballroom buffet

Nick's - 954-563-6441
3496 N. Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (parallel to Galt Ocean Dr.)
Turkey dinner

Old Heidelberg  954-463-6747
900 SW State Rd. 84, Fort Lauderdale

Pelican Grand Beach Resort    954-568-9431
2000 North Ocean Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
North Ocean Grill, Check hours

Riverside Hotel
Indigo  - 954-467-0045
620 East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Royal Pig Pub - 954-617-7447
350 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Open at 4 p.m. $25 menu

Ruth's Chris Steak House 954-565-2338
2525 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale
Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, Florida 33314
Council Oak – 954-327-7501

Shooter's Waterfront Cafe - 954-566-2855 
3033 NE 32nd Ave, Fort Lauderdale
Open 12-8 p.m.

Truluck’s – 954-396-5656
2584-A E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Tropical Acres – 954-989-2500
2500 Griffin Rd., Fort Lauderdale

Zuckerello's  954-776-4282
3017 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

Bobby Rubino's 954-781-7550
2501 N. Federal Hwy., Pompano Beach

Darrel & Oliver's Cafe Maxx - 954-782-0606
2601 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach

Galuppi’s, 954-785-0226
1103 North Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach

McDivot's at Carolina Golf Club - 95-753-3500 ext. 205
Rock Island Rd., a half mile south of Sample Road, Pompano Beach
Thanksgiving buffet

Fort Lauderdale Marriott Pompano Beach Resort & Spa - 954-782-0100
This is a new Marriott near the 14th Street Causeway on the beach in Pompano

Seaside Grill - 954- 783-3193
1406 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach

Deer Creek Golf Club -  954-421-5553    
Grille Room
2801 Country Club Blvd., Deerfield Beach

Le Bistro Restaurant    954-946-9240
4626 N. Federal Hwy., Lighthouse Point
Four-course Thanksgiving feast

Les Amies - 954-480-6464
626 So. Federal Hwy., Deerfield Beach

Palm Beach County

Butcher Block Grill - 561-409-3035
7000 W. Camino Real, Boca Raton (The Fountains Center)
Special and regular menus

Cote France Cafe - 561-955-6021
100 Plaza Real South, Boca Raton

Dada  - 561-330-3232
52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach

Burt and Max's - 561-638-6380
8089 W. Atlantic Blvd., Delray Beach

50 Ocean - 561-278-3364
50 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach

St. Tropez - 561-368-4119
7860 Glades Rd., Boca Raton

Josef's Table - 561-353-2700
5030 Champion Blvd., Boca Raton

Rack's Downtown Eatery and Tavern - 561-395-1662
402 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

Renzo's - 561-994-3495
599 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton 

Red, The Steakhouse 561-353-9139
1901 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton

Waterstone Bar and Grill - 561-368-9500
Waterstone Resort and Marina (formerly the Bridge)
999 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton

Prime Catch 561-737-8822

700 East Woolbright Rd., Boynton Beach

Casa Mia Trattoria -561-972-6888
337 E. Indiantown Road, Suite 10E, Jupiter 

Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa - 561-746-2511
Ballroom – Buffet, check hours
Sinclair’s Terrace and Sandbar – Pets welcome outdoors on the terrace
5 North A1A, Jupiter

Ironwood Steak and Seafood  - 561-627-4852
PGA National Resort & Spa
400 Avenue of Champions, Palm Beach Gardens

Capital Grille - 561-630-4994
11365 Legacy Drive, Palm Beach Gardens

III Forks Steakhouse and Seafood 561-630-3660
4645 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens

Waterway Café – 561-694-1700
2300 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens

Seasons 52 - 561-625-5852
11611 Ellison Wilson Rd., Palm Beach Gardens
Serving 12 to 8 p.m.

Cut 432  561-272-9898
432 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

Cafe Provence - 561-561-921-0065
4967 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

Fifth Avenue Grill 561-265-0122
821 S. Federal Hwy, Delray Beach

Marriott Delray Beach     561-274-3219
10 N. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach

Brunch in the Seacrest Ball Room with nine seatings 

Sundy House        561-272-5678
106 S. Swinton Avenue, Delray Beach
Buffet – several seatings

The Breakers Palm Beach     561-659-8488
One South County Road, Palm Beach
Several venues. Call or visit website for details 
Café Boulud at Brazilian Court Hotel – 561-655-7740
301 Australian Ave. Palm Beach

Del Frisco's Grille 561-557-2552
340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach

Four Seasons of Palm Beach - 561-582-2800
2800 South Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach

Meat Market - 561-354-9800
191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach

MB’s at Omphoy Ocean Resort - 561-540-6444
2842 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach
Pistache French Bistro    561-833-5090
101 Clematis, West Palm Beach

Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa-561-533-6000 
Preferred Hotel Group
100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan

Ta-boo – 561-835-3500
221 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach
Serving lunch 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., dinner 5-10 p.m.

Thanksgiving takeout dinners 
Broward and Palm Beach counties

Annie’s Vintage Gourmet 561-575-4700                                      
1132 W. Indiantown Road, Jupiter

Carmines Gourmet Market 561-775-0105
2401 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens

Fresh Market – 954-763-1250
424 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, another in Boca Raton
See web site for additional locations

Joseph's Classic Market 561-799-0322
4409 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens

Jupiter – The Bluffs -561-627-5555
Palm Beach Gardens – Downtown at the Gardens – 561-622-8131
Check website for other locations

Whole Foods Market
Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens
Check site for addresses and phone numbers

Publix Markets
Check your neighborhood location and telephone

Winn Dixie
Check your neighborhood location

Tags: Thanksgiving dinner Fort Lauderdale, Thanksgiving dinner Pompano,Thanksgiving dinner Palm Beach, Thanksgiving Broward County, Thanksgiving 2014 Broward and Palm Beach counties
Restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner Fort Lauderdale 2014,Restaurants serving Thanksgiving dinner in Palm Beach