Film and TV

Fast Times: Pinewood Café at Hermann Park

When I grabbed a book and headed out to Hermann Park last week, I had no intention of eating, much less of writing a Fast Times review of the new Pinewood Café. My favorite reading spot is near the paddleboat rental, which is right next door to the café and its lovely, dog-friendly patio.

The patio was full of families with their kids -- not my usual scene, to be honest -- but I was instantly hungry as I looked around at the wraps, burgers, and sandwiches on the tables. I wandered inside to place my order and noticed the generous indoor seating area. Note to self: Pinewood Café is good for a rainy-day snack, too.

I was tempted by the list of wraps, which included standard options like Caesar and Club, and the more unusual Bahn Mi and Buffalo. Craving something fresh and green, I opted for the California: house greens, avocado, tomato, sprouts, cucumber, fresh turkey. I chose the spicy cilantro dressing at the recommendation of the woman who took my order; she informed me that all of the café's dressings are made fresh in-house.

After placing my order, I was invited to have a seat: "Enjoy this weather and we'll bring your food right out!" Low prices, fresh food, and table service? Yes, please.

I craved fresh and green, and that is certainly what I got with this California wrap. Given the choice of a spinach or flour wrap, I went with spinach, because face it -- flour tortilla wraps can be pretty boring.

Considering the $5 price tag (with a bottle of water, my order totaled $7 and change), these are generous portion sizes. What really pleased me was the ratio of lunch meat to vegetables. Rather than a wad of meat and a few measly leaves of lettuce, the California wrap is heavy on vegetables, served along with what appears to be a normal portion (4-5 oz.) of turkey. Hallelujah!

My only real problem with the wrap was the decided lack of "spicy cilantro" flavor. I'm actually not the biggest cilantro fan in the world, but I do like spice, which is why I chose this dressing rather than the ranch or balsamic offerings. So while a little cilantro goes a very long way, I couldn't taste it a bit on this wrap; nor could I discern any real spice. The sandwich didn't suffer for lack of condiment, thanks to the avocado, but I think next time I will ask for extra or go for the balsamic vinaigrette.

Pinewood Café is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and a fresh take on "fast" food.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Christina Uticone