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Affogato at Eatsie Boys Cafe
With the Montrose eatery's matzoh ball pho and sticky bun sandwiches taking the spotlight at the Boys' cafe, many often forget their Frozen Awesome ice cream line. It's sold around town — Paulie's features it as a part of their regular menu — and comes in tasty, offbeat flavors.
That might be why their affogato is especially addictive, because you can ask for their popular Shipley's ice cream with your shot of espresso. The contrast between the smoky, milky shot and the super-sweet firm ice cream will satisfy your sweet tooth while waking you up after a Sabotage or pint of the Boys' new brewery 8th Wonder Hopston.
On the Menu
James Coney Island unveils new chef-designed hot dogs on June 1.
James Coney Island is one of the oldest restaurants in Houston, founded in 1923 by Greek immigrant brothers James and Tom Papadakis (this explains the Greek-influenced chili that remains on the menu to this day). But although the chain is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the food is anything but old-fashioned.
In just the last few years, James Coney has started using local baker Slow Dough for its buns and introduced new twists on its classic coneys, such as the Lone Star Dog (topped with barbecue sauce and battered slices of onion rings) and the Baja dog, which sports avocado, chipotle mayonnaise and red onions.
Starting June 1, the chain will be featuring an even more intriguing take on Houston's favorite tubed meat in a bun: custom-designed hot dogs from some of the city's best chefs. Each month for the next six months, James Coney Island will feature a different custom-made hot dog from Monica Pope of Sparrow, Hugo Ortega of Hugo's, Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, Matt Marcus of the Eatsie Boys and John Sheeley of Mockingbird Bistro. Up first in the rotation, however, is Randy Evans of Haven.
Evans's creation is called the "Huntin' Dog," which will replace the standard Hebrew National all-beef frank with an Angus beef hot dog from 44 Farms, an independent cattle ranch near Cameron, Texas. The custom-baked jalapeño-cheese bun will still come from Slow Dough, and the dog itself will be topped with Haven's signature wild boar chili along with diced onions, cilantro and pickled jalapeño.
The Evans-designed Huntin' Dog will be available throughout June at all James Coney Island locations for $6.29. A new chef's creation will replace it on July 1, although JCI is staying mum about which chef will come next in the rotation and what his or her hot dog recipe will be. In addition to featuring the chef's creation for 30 days, James Coney Island is also donating $1,000 to that chef's favorite charity each month.
And if old-fashioned is your thing? Don't worry; the classic coneys at JCI are still as great as ever, and they'll always be on the menu.
Relaxation and repast at Bon Ga.
After two meals at Bon Ga, I understand why Oxhart chef Justin Yu names it as one of his go-to restaurants.
Bon Ga is not about culinary posturing, fussy presentation and unorthodox flavors. Fresh ingredients and consistently impeccable preparation are Bon Ga's hallmark virtues and the reason this restaurant is exactly where I want to go on a casual weekend night with friends.
It's hard not to order some form of dumpling (steamed beef are my favorite), because the supple dough and rich, spicy contents are pure comfort. The zucchini pancake, equally satisfying, presents more complicated flavors: fluffy salty cooked egg, tender botanical vegetables and crisp "skin" laced with sesame oil. A medium will have you fighting over the last piece with your fellow dining companions, so keep the peace (no pun intended — well, okay, yes) and order a large.
Both times I've eaten at Bon Ga I've ordered the bibimbap. It's unusual for me not to try something new on my second visit to a restaurant, but my initial experience with the robust purple rice adorned with mounds of pork and kimchi was so good it demanded repetition. Take II of the bibimbap was perhaps even better, probably because I mixed the egg yolk thoroughly through the rest of the dish's components so as to create a lovely binder between rice, meat and vegetables.
While the bibimbap was my and my friend's clear favorite, my husband and another friend were rightfully enamoured of the pan-fried squid and vegetables. The spicy garlic sauce with slightly sweet undertones was a fitting dressing for the milder seafood and produce, both slightly seared to preclude any hint of sogginess.
At my third dinner at Bon Ga, I should probably order Something Else. I wouldn't mind, though, if pleasant history repeated itself and I relished the bibimbap once again. I have a feeling, though, I would be just as pleased with anything on the menu. So, perhaps, then it's time to move on to the tofu stew.
Openings and Closings
Sugarbaby's shutters, Porch Swing Desserts swings open.
When one oven door closes, another opens (or something like that): Sugarbaby's Cupcake Boutique ceased operations May 18. The bakery inside the bright pink and green building on Shepherd thanked its fans on Twitter for all their years of support: "Sold out for our last day. It was great to see so many friendly faces. Thanks so much for 6 yrs of awesomeness."