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The Menu from Hell

A retrospective of the dishes that made us shudder, not salivate

Yum, yum, yum! It's time to tuck in our napkins for the Second Annual Menu from Hell, that appetizing compendium of guaranteed real-life dishes served by Houston restaurants over the past 12 months.

As always, Houston's food pros rose to the challenge of conjuring up fare that stands proud in the annals of hellishness (in terms of their names, anyway; whether any of these dishes were actually edible we can't say, having been scared away by the very sight of these dishes on the bill of fare). Let Manhattanites eat their asparagus-raisin sorbet: Houston will gladly add to their sorrows by exporting Steve Weltman, owner of Sugar Land's Bagel Express, his flight bag stuffed full of the hideous red-and-gold Rockets bagels that he schlepped to Madison Square Garden for the NBA finals. Among 1994's irksome herd of celebrity recipes, ex-Houstonian Kenny Rogers' formula for Fire & Ice Chili -- which calls for a 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks in syrup -- was second to none for sheer horror. And chef Dennis Boitnott at The Houstonian hotel provided visiting celeb Lassie with a breakfast fit for a dog: six cups of unseasoned boiled chicken, cut in one-inch pieces. Bow wow!

Granted, our neighbors did up the ante this year with such delicacies as the nutria nuggets now enjoying a Louisiana vogue, not to mention the "non-premium pig parts" swirled in Jello featured at the Spam Splendor cooking contest in Dallas. And it's hard to top the Bug Brunch tossed by Texas Tech entomologist Harlan Thorvilson, who whipped up crispy Cajun crickets and sauteed yellow meal worms for his students. But Houston showed its diabolical genius with the following selection of delicacies -- to be served, if you please, on the pink Fiestaware plates that have invaded our local eateries this year, and upon which all food looks suitably grisly. Bon appetit!

Blackened Dead Fish
Crazy Cajun

Shrimp with Pelt Bean
Chinese Cafe

Tuna Melt Pizza
California Pizza Kitchen

Intestine Pot Stew
Myung Dong

Fowlburger
Whiskey Barrel Cooker

NAFTA Salad
Village Brewery

Falafel Flautas
8.0

Emu Terrine with Tri-Color Lentils
Houston Club

Broiled Hair Tail
Camellia Restaurant

"Eat Til You're Sick" Pizza Buffet
Kenneally's Irish Pub

Strawberry Shrimp Piquante
Lagniappe

Boiled Bacon Dish
Woo Mi Gwan

Sonora Gut Bomb Burger
Sonora del Norte

Roy's Dude Ranch Bagel
Roy Rogers

Grouper Head Soup
To Chau

Moo Shu Chicken Calzone
California Pizza Kitchen

Scrambled Egg Potato Skins with Honey Mustard Sauce
Forno's of Italy

Stir Bean Sprounding
Quan Yin

Jalapeno Beer
Village Brewery

Guinness Stout Ice Cream
Amy's

Goat Cheese and Strawberry Bavarian with Dijon Passion Fruit Sauce
Doubletree Post Oak

Nectarine and Poblano Pepper Pie
Lagniappe

Rabbit Cake
Quan Yin

Strawberry Shortcake Coffee
House of Coffee Beans

Creamy Dreamy Heather Drink
Museum

R.I.P.
While some of Houston's restaurants had trouble with their menus, some had trouble, period, falling prey to those ill winds that all too easily sweep through our city's collection of eateries. A roster of the late and (occasionally) lamented that were laid low in '94:

Quilted Toque/Cafe Toque
Heaven on Earth
Norris
Cafe Brasil
Red Lion
Cattle Kings/Caramba
Kathy's
Womack House
Teche
The Tempest
La Mer
Gabriella's
Torcello's
Cajun on the Bayou
Mercy
Tony's
Museum

 
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