Inside the loop

Sam's Cafe (Washington Corridor)

Sam's Cafe used to be my go-to Chinese food spot, until they changed ownership.  I used to always get the Saute Green Beans, but I used to add tofu which they then named The Kim Special, after me.  But, since the ownership has changed, I went once and the food was totally different and never went back again.  Recently, they changed ownership again and their manager asked me if I would kindly remove the last review I gave, which was a 2 stars rating.  Instead of removing it, I wanted to try it first and the food wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.  The Orange Chicken was deep fried, which isn't how the original Sam's used to make it.  I wasn't that impressed with it, the others were ok actually, but might be better than the last owner.  I give it a 2.5 stars.  I may be brave and try it again...we'll see...

Steel City Pops (Heights)

With all the hub bub, I had to try! I visited twice since my first visit, once with my girlfriend Jennifer and the second time with the husband and kiddo. The pops are $3 and so far I have tried the Mango, Coconut, Avocado and Strawberry Lemonade. All pretty good, the Coconut is the best of the creamy pops, the Strawberry Lemonade for the fruity pops. Fun place!

Toulouse (River Oaks)

I mean...I have no idea when this little shopping center popped up!  But, it's all up and ready and it's really posh and super nice!  A little dead on traffic and people...until you walk into Toulouse!  Gorgeous, love it, beautiful restaurant!  But, I'll make this short and sweet, the food was all just ok.  I wasn't really impressed at all.  I had the Almond Fish and it was pretty much tasteless.  I was a little shocked at how unflavorful it was.  The appetizer was pretty good, but everything beyond that was just ok, to me.  The restaurant and atmosphere were really nice.  Love this shopping center, I shall be back!  Although they say it's a little dead because it's so high end...only really luxury brands in this center.

Little Liberty

Stumbled upon this gem, knew it existed, but wasn't sure where it was...and though it was  a great spot, the food was only ok.  The cheesy grits were awesome!  The interior layout is pretty much the same as it was when it was Ruggles Cafe, but the design is different.  We both got the egg scramble and like I said, it was ok.  Maybe, I'll try it again, this time Waffles!

Trying Ginger & Fork (Washington Corridor)

A friend of mine really wanted to visit, a week later, here we are.  This used to be Pagoda, which didn't make it but since then, this has been the third restaurant occupying this space.  Nice house.  Based off of the exterior I'm not sure what to expect, high quality or low...the interior was ok...I started to notice things that made me realize it was looking like an average restaurant.  But, we were still excited to try the food.  The craft cocktails were interesting.  I'm pregnant so I got a mocktail, which was just ok, but I wasn't expecting much.  I didn't like either of the cocktails Oscar ordered, I think he thought they were ok too.  Now...about the food!  On the Happy Hour Menu we ordered, which was suggested by the owner, the Spicy Tofu Cubes, which was ok, Pork Dumplings, also ok, Cha Siu Sliders, again ok, and the Chow fun with Beef, which was the best, in my opinion.  Oh yes, we also go the Fried Rice off the main menu and Oscar thought that was the best.  Nothing we tried was bad, but nothing was very exciting...overall, I thought the food was all right and nothing special.  And...I didn't really love the interior decor either...ho hum...

The Kitchen at the Dunlavy (Lost Lake Allen Parkway)

I had heard from one friend they loved it and heard from another friend the food was mixed reviews.  We decided to go Valentines weekend and what a day!  Perfect for an outdoor brunch!  Unfortunately everyone had the same idea!  The line was out the door, but a fairly quick line.  The breakfast menu is pretty small, I ordered the Avocado Toast with Scrambled eggs and picked up the Fruit, Granola over Yogurt with Chia Seeds.  Matt ordered the Breakfast Sandwich (Eggs, Bacon, Kale on English Muffin) and a coffee, and Ethan ordered 2 Cranberry Rosemary Biscuits, the Blueberry Cake and an Orange Juice.  Matt and I liked our meals, he said the coffee was good too but, Ethan only really dug into the Blueberry Cake but he thought it was too sweet.  I tried it with the icing and thought so too.  He doesn't ever want to come back.  He's a total breakfast person and their limited menu was not to his liking.  I tried his biscuits and they weren't bad.  He said his oj was good though.  I guess this will be a me and Matt place.

Neither one of us loved it, but we liked it.  The atmosphere is nice, but the overload on chandeliers was a little confusing.  The food is actually priced reasonably, but the chandeliers make it seem fancy, which is sort of conflicting.  Anyways, it's a nice place, great outdoor space, if you can find a spot.  They have heaters outside too, which made it a really comfortable spot, inside was freezing!  All in all, nice place.

Breakfast at Brasil

I'm excited because it's Sunday and we missed church due to a longer than expected showing and we're headed to eat but we're a little late for brunch, at most places...but today we found Brasil who serves breakfast till 3pm on the weekends!  Now we're talking!  I mean, you would think it's normal business practice to extend breakfast or brunch on the weekends...because people love breakfast...but no, they don't...except a few places like Brasil!!  So needless to say, we're very very happy.  

Now, I noticed their weekend breakfast menu is different from their weekday.  It seems like there are more items on the weekday menu, which doesn't make sense to me.  I mean, shouldn't your weekend breakfast/brunch menu be bigger than your weekday menu?  I mean how many people get breakfast at a restaurant on the weekdays?  I know I don't!

However, we did notice the guy next to us had pancakes.  We asked how he got the pancakes and apparently they have a specials menu, we missed that.  So, definitely check out their specials menu, which is on the black board near the entry door.

On the food, we thought was good, not excellent.  But hey, I'm not complaining, just letting you all know.  It gets pretty crowded, but there is a good crowd, good for you people watchers!  Alright, that's it for now...till next tiime!

State of Grace (Upper Kirby)

The newest restaurant with a lot of buzz...a really great atmosphere, sexy and interesting decor and the food and service, excellent!  Definitely go and try!

Sorry so short, sometimes you're just not in the mood, especially when you have a lot of catching up to do on reviews...but believe me, this is a must try!  

Oh, one more thing...the lemon dessert, uh!  So so good!  

Cooking Girl (Montrose)

Seems authentic, atmosphere no bells and whistles, food seemed really authentic and the restaurant gave off a vibe like there was some little old asian lady in the back cooking her homemade recipes...and that goes far with an inner loop crowd!  We enjoyed the fish the most, I did like the mapo tofu, but seeing all the oil rise to the top after the tofu was gone brought on some remorseful feelings.  The green beans good!  The beef dish was ok.  It's odd, you think they're everywhere, but I feel like everyone is always looking for a good Chinese place and I really hadn't found that, but I think this place might be a good place!

Breakfast at Revival Market

Well now...people...did you think I went missing?  I guess I sort of did.  You know how the holidays come bombarding you with to-do lists!  I'm finally done with those lists and now ready for some smooth sailing into the new year!  The last 2 weeks of December always feel so unstable to me.  Nothing is consistent, the days, the work hours, the obligations, events, parties, get-togethers, the family...  It's bitter sweet...hectic, but it's festive and fun.  It's my favorite time of year.  You love it, but you're also sad it's all going to be gone soon.  So as part of my inconsistent days, this morning we decide to go to Revival Market for breakfast.  It was disappointing to see their breakfast ends at 11am.  However, they do have a few all day breakfast items, this picture above being one of them.  I ordered the Traditional Breakfast, $12, which includes 2 farm style eggs, bacon or sausage, and a piece of toast.  We subbed ours with a biscuit which was nice of them to allow.  When my breakfast arrived, the eggs came sunny side up.  I don't eat eggs sunny side up and then realized our server never asked me or matt and ethan how we wanted our eggs.  None of us eat our eggs sunny side up, but that's how we got them.  They were accommodating enough to send mine back to scramble.  They should ask though...

The sausage was really good, the biscuit was really good, but I wish...wish they would keep breakfast open longer.  The full breakfast menu.  It's a small place and it would be nice if they offered that...especially since their restricted breakfast menu looks really good.  Or at least on Saturday and Sunday have breakfast a little longer.  Overall, we enjoyed our meals, just that one wish and it would be the perfect weekend place.

*the picture above is without the eggs since they sent them back to scramble them.

Les Ba'get Vietnamese Restaurant (Montrose)

I happened to just be driving by and see this cute little bungalow andโ€ฆ What, it's a Vietnamese restaurant?   Ok, well I'll definitely put that on the weekend list of places to go.  We visited on Saturday and loved it!  It's cute inside and the food was really good!  All of it!  We both got the Pho, I got the file mignon bits, Matt got the filet mignon and the flank.  We were both impressed, very good!  We also ordered the Buddha spring or summer rolls, I can't remember which one but they were the vegetarian with tofu rolls.  Again, really good!  Fresh, soft and the peanut sauce was great!  Even the Vietnamese coffee wasn't bad. It wasn't the best I've had, but it was up there.  And we not only enjoyed the food but the atmosphere was was really nice.  It's what I had hoped for Pho Binh in the Heights, but the overall experience there isn't that great and the food, other than the Pho, isn't really that great either.  

Also, Les Ba'get is counter service and they are still in soft opening mode so they tend to run out of food by the end of the day.  So you know, we really liked Les Ba'get that we went again on Sunday to try something else.  Matt really enjoyed his vermicelli with Buttered Garlic Chicken.  I didn't love my vermicelli with lemongrass tofu as much, but overall we still enjoyed it!

I went again a few days later with 2 other friends and I ordered the Rice plate with Lemongrass Beef and that was really delicious.  David got the pork and Sasha also go the Lemongrass Beef and we all agreed the Lemongrass Beef was better than the pork. However, I didn't think the pork was bad, it's just not as tender as the beef dish.  Anyways, they all really enjoyed it and both also liked the tofu spring rolls.

I tried again this past Monday and they were closed.  Not sure what their business hours are, but they may be closed on Mondays...just an fyi.  Definitely go try, it's a great spot for Vietnamese food and nice atmosphere.  It's my new favorite spot!

Fluff Bake Bar (Midtown)

You know, I really love FBB, but I went to the new Midtown location and pretty much bought one of everything they had.  Unfortunately, we weren't really impressed with any of the cakes we got, birthday, carrot and pbj.  I love macaroons, but even their macaroons were subpar.  We did enjoy the couch potato cookie and the Oreo sandwich cookie. Other than that everything else was just ok. I was disappointed.  Maybe, I should just stick to the veruca salt cake.  By the way, if you like macaroons, try the Lemon Lavendar at Common Bond, it's  make ya slap ya momma good!

Wooster's Garden (Midtown)

We got to experience Wooster's Garden for my good friend, Chef Niki's, pop-up Ramen event.  I had not heard a word about Wooster's, but really loved the atmosphere!  It felt much like a biergarten.  I love biergarten's by the way.  They're so festive and so conducive for social greatness!  Love love them.  You like a dark corner?  Got it!  You like sitting at the bar?  Got it!  You like sitting outside?  Sitting in and outside at the same time?  Got it!  Got it!  Tons of variety on how you like your social outtings.  I really enjoyed the atmosphere.  I think they could probably use some help on organization.  We weren't sure if we were supposed to order at the bar or if someone was coming to us.  Other than that, we enjoyed the ramen, the sides, and the beers!   Fun night!

Popping into Helen Greek Food and Wine (Rice Village)

All I need is to hear a little buzz and I'm there.  The latest buzz and we were excited to visit this weekend when we got a chance to get out was Helen's located in Rice Village.  I believe they took over the Kahn's Deli that was formerly there.  Super cute place, small and cozy.  We didn't make a reservation, but got lucky and were seated immediately.  However, call in for a reservation a day or two and you should be good.  

We had  a great server, she reminded us of Jennifer Garner and said she did get that often.  She was great, she directed us towards, in order that the dishes came out, fried squash interesting flavors and textures, the Greek salad was fresh but so many tomatoes we were almost stuffed trying to finish it off.  It wasn't what we were used to for a Greek Salad, but we assumed it might be the way a Greek salad is traditionally done back in the mother land.  Then our chicken entree came out, we only ordered half which was great because in hindsight I think we, overall, ordered too much.  But again, the chicken and chips below it were good, interesting flavors.  Next was the butter pasta, wow, super buttery, but after awhile, I just didn't notice it as much.  This dish was my least favorite in taste because it was so heavy, but the tile pasta was different and like I said, I didn't mind the butteriness of it as much.  We finished off with desserts, Ricotta Mousse (they're most popular) and we also ordered the Baklava, which was not her recommendation.  She also suggested the Pistaschio dessert, but Matt really wanted the Baklava.  I don't blame him, it came in a super adorable presentation, in one of those iconic Greek paper coffee cups!  The baklava was not to my liking...I don't really like chocolate and cinnamon in my Baklava, I realized.  But, Matt liked it.  Oh and the was fantastic, as she suggested.  And my apologies, but I can't seem to find their menu online so I'm not totally sure what the official names of the dishes were.  

It's more of a mild version of fine dining for Greek food, not so much casual, as most people associate with Greek food.  We really liked the restaurant.  It's a great place for a date or small groups.  We enjoyed the atmosphere, service and the food very much!  Fun place, the perfect spot for our date night on this beautiful evening!

Truffle Egg Salad at Local Foods

This dish single handedly sabotages my entire diet!  I'm not really on a diet, but I do try to eat healthy and this meal gets me everytime.  I dream about this meal.  Now, I know it's not for everyone, but for those of you that have similar tastes as me, it's mm good.  Definitely go try!  I try to find something new here, but I haven't been able to move off the Truffle Egg Salad Sandwich yet.  Mm!!

Velvet Taco (Washington Corridor)

I have noticed this business in the neighborhood go up and then open but, no strong desire to visit until I saw a write up on it and so it's where our Friday dinner is.  It's pretty cool and hip, big place and quite a bit of a crowd.  The menu is pretty cool, a lot of things that appeal to me.  I had a bit of a hard time choosing, but with the help of the employee, I chose the Poke taco and Grilled Flank Steak Taco.  I liked the Ahi Poke, healthy and light, but it is probably the most expensive item on the menu, at $6.50.  But, it's definitely an item I can put on the regular menu and be happy with.  You know, a gal has to watch her girlish figure!  The other taco...the Grilled Flank was a little bland, but I did request all the heavy, fat stuff on the, it's understandable it was a little boring.  Matt got the Pulled Pork and he and Ethan both got a Brisket Taco.  Ethan did not like the place at all, but you know, he's 14.  He's not exactly a foodie.  The more plain, the more he will like it.  He took a few bites of his taco and hated it...too much stuff on it.  Matt and I both liked Velvet Taco and preferred it over Torchy's.  Anyways, that's my short, two cents.

Also, I think this creamed corn thing was complimentary, but not really sure.  It might of been what was supposed to be on my Flank Steak taco, but probably not.  It was a pretty big helping.  Nice place!

Asia Market Restaurant Open!! (Heights/East of 45)

Like everyone, I too was wondering if Asia Market's restaurant had opened yet.  I did a cursory search and kept finding the new owner's of the grocery store, Asia Market Thai Lao Food.  But it is not to be confused with "Asia Market Restaurant", which is on the other side of 45...just a few short minutes.

On arriving, it's actually a nice space inside.  It was good to finally see the owner's after several months of not and it was good to see them in their new space...finally.  However, it was unclear to Jodie and I what the protocol was.  We sat for so long, we thought I was supposed to go up and order at the bar.  But, we figured it out and a server finally came and greeted us after 15 minutes.  They're definitely a work in progress, still trying to figure things out.  Looks like they have all new staff and the food seemed a little different.  But, the owners assured me the cook is the same and has been with her since the beginning.  Ok well, maybe just an off day.  

Anyways, I plan to be back with everyone else I've introduced to Asia Market because I'm super supportive of the owners and they need a lot of support.  It's got to be the scariest thing to open a brand new business and they could use all the help in getting the word out, so spread the word, they're officially open!!

Dishes above are the Thai style Papaya Salad, med spicy, Kee Mao Noodles with Chicken, med spicy, Crispy Rice Salad, and a small order of Sticky Rice.

Smoosh Cookies (Rice Village)

For our regular Friday treat day, I took the 14 year-old with me and to my great pleasure he decided he wanted to try my suggestion, Smoosh Cookies, rather than our regular doughnuts or Menchie's...after he looked at some pictures online, that is.  So we head there and we were not expecting a food truck, as it had an address listed online, but I guess this is their temporary home for now.  We walk up and as the menu shows, you pick your choice of cookie, ice cream and a topping.  Ethan chose chocolate chip with peanut butter brownie ice cream, and an oreo cookie topping.  Talk about too much going on.  He's not really in tune with the concep of cohesive flavors, but he said it was good and he liked it and he would definitely go back.  I got the oatmeal cookies, with French vanilla and no toppings....and it tasted like 2 cookies with ice cream in between.  It was good, but I didn't really think there was anything really special going on with it and really, if I was craving something like this, I would just go get 2 cookies and stick some ice cream in between.  It's not really rocket science, but hey, it was fun and I'm glad we checked it out.