Dives and DIY Shepherd's Pie
Down at the Dive
Terrific: I'm not really a reader of the Houston Press, nor have I been in a dive in 40 years, but I walked into a sandwich shop for lunch today, picked up a copy and read this article on dives over lunch ["Dive Bars," by John Lomax, October 15]. I actually laughed out loud at the entertaining article; it was wonderful. Lomax is a very good wordsmith and has an eloquent way of painting word pictures to describe these dives and the colorful people who populate them. This is a terrific piece of writing.
Michael A. Craig
Houston dive bars
Chez Lounge: This bar, on Main and West Bellfort, fits just about every category mentioned. Even the danger factor. We stopped going the night my wife and I were threatened at knifepoint. It also gets extra points for having a for-sale-by-owner sign out front now.
No, thanks: Okay, the Happy Go Lucky doesn't sound so much like a dive bar as a "dance hall," and I mean that euphemistically. My daily commute takes me past it and many similar no-windows bars on Telephone, and I wouldn't step foot in any of 'em. But out in that neck of the woods, I nominate the Windmill Icehouse on Almeda, although the jukebox is suspect.
What about Woodie's? How can y'all have an article about dive bars and not mention Woodie's Ice House on Greenridge? That place has got to be the roughest of the rough.
Notable Omissions: The Shiloh Club. Red Hogg. Longbranch. Maybe Tall Texan and Jimmy's Place.
See Spot: The Spot is spot-on as one of the best. That is a tough place to swallow the first time you visit. The location screams of dive bar — why else am I here? Points also for the Shiloh.
What a Palace: One of the best dive bars ever was the Palace Club on Mechanic Street in Galveston. It's been gone for quite a while, but I remember it with a great deal of fondness. I'm not a good pool player, but I had a tremendously good run with a bunch of drunken guys. Really, I held the table for 11 games. The bartender's name was Judith, and she and all the regulars spent an inordinate amount of time dissing tourists — I was one at that time, now I live here — but it was charming because she had a delightful British accent.
Dirt bar: Back in the '70s, my ex-husband liked to frequent a dive on Berry Road in north Houston. It terrified me. I went one time, and that was one too many. It was very dark and stank of cigarette smoke, vomit and body odors. The small building looked like it was ready to fall over with the next North wind, or a good fistfight inside would pull it down. I will never forget the dirt floor.
Online readers comment on "The Shameless Chef: DIY Shepherd's Pie," by John Seaborn Gray, October 20:
LOL: I hope it tastes better than it looks.
Inauthentic: Uh, isn't shepherd's pie supposed to be topped with a mashed potato crust? I say, for a more authentic pie, you can leave out the milk and the Bisquick and just top with a second package of mashed potatoes before baking.
Gray is Ray: Man, why do you want to be the Rachael Ray of the Press? This site should be about getting people to try and do it "right," not about getting people to be "lazy assholes."
Shameful Chef: This is not "shameless," it's "shameful." Slapping together a bunch of sodium- and preservative-laden goop is not cooking. Perhaps you should spend your time showing people how simple it is to cook real food — the kind that's actually good for you.
Do simple but healthy: I generally don't condone the author-bashing that sometimes occurs here, but I agree that processed food is almost always loaded with things that are proven to be bad for you, and it really isn't that hard to create simpler dishes that are nutritious and still tasty. For example, a simple tomato sauce: Sauté a little chopped garlic in olive oil, added chopped tomatoes, simmer a while. Herbs optional.
I think this is a great idea: I'm a foodie, but I'm a dreadful cook, and featuring food that's tasty yet easily prepared is a great idea. Kudos to the Press for giving this idea a shot. Of course, if you'd suggested antebellum heirloom biscuit dough instead of Bisquick, it would have been better...
I believe you all missed the point: Calm down, scroll up and read the title. Ease up.
Adieu: I'm sorry, but that sounds and looks disgusting. Not to mention it's anatomically incorrect — the mash is supposed to go on top. I'll be skipping these blog posts in the future.
Not bad: You know, ten to 15 minutes of work for something that comes "out of the oven" when you get home from work at six-thirty or seven at night? I say, not bad. Is it healthy? Who knows, who cares? It's not like this was written as "the healthiest meal you can make and should eat every single day." Sheesh, lighten up.
Nice try: The fact of the matter is that the supermajority of readers are amateurs, and always will be, and there's nothing at all wrong with featuring recipes aimed at that demographic. Having said that, I do have to agree that this dish is pretty terrible. But I want to applaud the effort, because there will always be an audience for tasty meals that are quick and simple to prepare. Thanks for trying and better luck next time.
This is effing brilliant: I think you'll find a sense of humor on Aisle 5 at Central Market, but only if you look carefully.
OMG: This was revolting to look at and read. Why, oh why, would you encourage people to eat this trash? Shepherd's pie is so easy to make the right way (i.e., from scratch). Sigh.
Next up: Salt cakes. Take a muffin tin and fill each tin with a paper muffin wrapper and fill with salt. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out, let cool and enjoy!
Wow: Who knew a few boxes of precooked food could make so many people angry?! I think it's hilarious and I'm looking forward to more Shameless posts!
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