Almost Veggies: Several weeks back, we checked out the new burger joint BurgerFi and found pretty much the same thing as Almost Veggies blogger Ashli did. It kind of sucks. Ashli's first complaint about BurgerFi was that the cheeseburger seemed to have no cheese. It's not that it didn't have cheese, because if you look at the picture she posted, there's clearly something there. It just seemed like it didn't have cheese. This devolved into a cheese saga of sorts in which Ashli tried to get a normal-sized piece of cheese melted on her veggie burger. At one point, the manager came over to ask how everything was going. She explained the cheese issue, and he replied, "The cooks are already in trouble because most of them are hungover and in a bad mood from going out last night." WTF, BurgerFi? Like us, Ashli gave BurgerFi a poor rating: "Wow + Ouch = Wouch."
Leader Eater: Bar chain Little Woodrow's now has six locations in Houston, with the newest one, on Shepherd near Washington, having opened only a few months ago. There are now two locations in the Washington Corridor/Memorial area, so Leader Eater wrote up a comparison to determine which is the greater of the two nearby Little Woodrow's. Turns out they're actually pretty different. The one on White Oak doesn't have a food menu, but it invites food trucks to hawk their wares in the small parking lot most nights of the week. The newer Shepherd location is more of a sit-down restaurant that Leader Eater describes as "a pub featuring a terse menu highlighted with chicken wings, fried mushrooms and pickles and a handful of burgers loaded down with heart-stopping toppings." What these two joints share is a decent selection of local taps and cheap beer, as well as great trivia and theme nights. Can a neighborhood handle more than one Little Woodrow's? Heck yes.
Science Based Cuisine: This week, Dr. Ricky explains something that is neither controversial nor so full of science jargon that it ceases to mean anything to us laypeople with nothing more than a college Rocks for Jocks class under our belts. He delves into the science behind gels in cuisine, explaining exactly what makes a once solid or liquid element become...well, something in between the two. He explains that "gelatin is highly desirable because it reverts to a sol state at body temperature, literally melting in the mouth to release flavor from the trapped liquid." Read the post yourself to understand the details of how gels are made, and check out Dr. Ricky's photo of a dessert from Kata Robata featuring a number of delicious-looking gels.
Houston Chronicle: Over at the Chronicle, Syd Kearney took some time to wax poetic about her hometown of Beaumont. "It's easy to write off a town that most people only know as the only decent-sized town between Houston and Lake Charles' casinos," Kearney writes, but she wants to change the way out-of-towners see the city. She lists five restaurants in Beaumont that she promises are worth checking out. The list includes Bánh Mon Renegade Street Food, a food truck specializing in Vietnamese sandwiches; Patillo's BBQ, which has great sausage; The Grill By Arfeen, Smith & Payne, a romantic restaurant with a late-night club feel; Tibideaux's, a slightly pricey Cajun joint; and The Burger Guys, which is originally from Houston but is now beloved by Beaumont. Thanks for the guide, Syd!
Texas Monthly: It's something that non-Texans often tend to pick up on pretty quickly when they visit any big city in our fair state: We like our coffee shops to sell booze and our bars to sell coffee. Texas Monthly mentions our very own Down House as an example of a restaurant/bar/coffee shop hybrid that's getting it right. The owner, Chris Cusack, explained to TM, "Great restaurants often had bad coffee; great bars often had bad food; great coffee shops had a beer selection that was obviously an afterthought. So we got to work." TM credits the booming Texas craft beer scene in part for the recent proliferation of craft beverage bars, while also noting that in-state coffee roasting is becoming increasingly popular. The magazine cites a common element surrounding the hybrid bars: "a sense of purpose and evangelism among the owners, who want to both lead a conversation about craft drinks and educate their bar patrons." I'll drink to that.
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Houstonia: Fans of The Nickel Sandwich Grill in the Greater Fifth Ward will tell you the small, no-frills, Southern cookin' spot makes mean barbecue and boudain, but Katharine Shilcutt of Houstonia wants to encourage you to try the catfish po-boy and fresh-cut fries as well. In describing the fries, Shilcutt writes, "They're hand-cut from skin-on potatoes, as thick and substantial as those onion rings, then fried until crispy outside yet still soft and starchy inside. They're liberally coated with salt and Cajun seasoning that tastes a little like Tony Chachere's, to the point where ketchup is rendered moot, a crass interloper." She also recommends the cheeseburger and onion rings, paired with some crisp (or just not sweltering) fall weather and a cold, cheap beer.
Bonus: I saw this stunning French food porn on Slate earlier in the week, and I simply could not resist sharing! The Slate article profiles French pastry chef Christophe Adam, who has turned the humble but delicious éclair into a work of art at his shop, L'Eclair de Génie. "In contrast to the rainbow-hued macaron, the éclair has long been more delicious than it was beautiful," writes Kristin Hohenadel for Slate. "Traditionally glazed in neutral shades of chocolate or coffee, this classic French childhood snack had an enduring charm, but it has never been a visual standout in the pastry case." Adam makes éclairs the definite star of the show due to the beautiful, shimmering decorations in place of a gooey swath of icing along the pastry cream-filled log. My only question is: When is Adam franchising to Houston?