I can't get over the cute look of Natachee's. True, it's a man-made, highly manufactured aesthetic: a fake weathered roof over the bar, quirkily dressed waitresses, and a whole lotta random kitsch. But I still liked how this (artificial) retro atmosphere allowed me to imagine I was leisurely chowing down in an early twentieth-century Houston watering hole.
Katharine Shilcutt called Natachee's food "painfully mediocre" after her visit late last fall. While I wouldn't rank Natachee's in, well, any sort of themed restaurant top ten list, they still seem to have come a long way.
Not all the way, mind you. I wasn't interested in any of the advertised mixed drinks, so I took a cue from the drink menu ("Want klassyer hooch? Just ask.") and requested a strong raspberry martini. No problem there: our very accommodating waitress returned with a wonderfully crisp martini ($6.50!), which I emptied even before deciding on an entree.
I eventually ordered "The Usual Burger" with an extra patty, American cheese, and sides of onion rings and sautéed garlic spinach. And, most importantly (to me), I specified the burger be prepared "rare." I can't stand overcooked meat and will settle for medium, which is usually what I receive even if I ask for rare.
The towering double cheeseburger arrived hot, dripping with cheese, and....completely dark-brown. No hint of pink anywhere. Under something of a time crunch, I started eating it anyway, and was glad I did, considering my heretofore diligent waitress didn't return for another 20 minutes, which wasn't completely her fault, as I noticed a very large, rowdy party dominating her attention.
When she finally did check on us, I alerted her to the issue. She apologized profusely and offered free dessert on the house. I appreciated this gesture and felt fairly mollified by the end of the meal, especially after finishing a second delicious lemon martini.
I still enjoyed my burger despite the fact it wasn't cooked to specification: it was well-spiced, with juicy meat, sweet-savory onions, and a fluffy bun. The jumbo onion rings, well-coated in a cornmeal batter, were delightfully crisp and the garlic spinach above-average.
Overall, it was a positive experience. I will return to Natachee's, probably to take advantage of their happy hour and daily specials. I just hope the kitchen learns to follow directions.
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