Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mangu

Tonight we were deciding on a place to have dinner and after remembering that Charlie's is closed on Sunday, we set out to try the new Caribbean restaurant in Pflugerville, Mangu. It's located behind the Tinseltwon theatre in a bright yellow house. It's a strange little set-up but we're always up for an adventure.

We were off to a slow start with the service, but since it's new we forgave them. By slow I mean, 4 or 5 waitstaff walked by us for about 20 minutes or so without checking on us, taking our order, saying hello, etc. They would actually look at us and continue walking by or leaning against the bar as if there were no customers in the restaurant. Once we got some attention, things got better.

The menu is difficult to read, hard to follow, etc. which was a little funny to me after working on a disastrous menu job where my goal was to organize the menu in an easy to navigate fashion and the client just thought it was crap...so I can see how a menu might end up looking like this one. I know just enough about Caribbean food to know what to start looking for on the menu. I finally found the chicken section on the very back. The Paella which looked pretty good in the photo, takes 30-40 minutes to prepare...which might not be so bad if we hadn't already been there that long before ordering. I decided on the Steak Asado (that's close...can't remember exact name on menu now). The entrees are served with your choice of three sides. I chose white rice, black beans and a house salad which is more like a Caribbean cole slaw. Tim had a pan seared marinated chicken breast with black beans, yellow rice and salad.

I forgot to mention that after they realized that no one had waited on us, they brought us a couple of appetizer plates to sample. One was fried plantain chips with a garlic sauce and the other was Fried Yuca served with a marinara sauce. I LOVE garlic so the plantains were a nice vehicle for garlic sauce. I had a small taste of the Yuca. It reminded me of a steak fry. Tim really seemed to enjoy it.

My steak was quite tasty, cooked medium and topped with some fresh minced garlic. The beans were cooked just right and the rice was fine. I was looking forward to the house salad until I discovered it was actually a slaw type of salad. It was very good, just not what I was expecting.

Tim ordered a pieced of the Tres Leches cake for us to try. It was very good and was actually what I had always pictured this cake to look like. I'll have to get a real Tres Leches fan to try it and let me know if I'm right about that.

Our meal with 2 teas and tax was about $29. They have a full bar, small outside patio and a TV for watching sports.

They also have take-out food available by the pound or by the dinner. They have a nice dinner for 4 with meat, rice, beans and dessert for around $25.00 that feeds four people.

I'm not sure how long they will be there. My favorite restaurant in Pflugerville, Cafe 101, has closed and their food was absolutely scrumptious in my book. Mom's Cafe closed also we found out this weekend (see Tim's blog below). It seems to be a hard market in which to succeed, but I wish them the best of luck.

JT

Saturday, October 01, 2005

NOTICE: Mom's Closed by order of MOM

Well, I guess we saw it coming, but never the less somehow I hate to see her go.
So there was this place in Round Rock called Mom's. It was a dive diner, behind a dive bar, in a dive area of town. The food was good and cheap, just don't look down at the floor.
After a few years of them being there, we headed over on Saturday to find out it was not Mom’s any more. After a call to 1411 we found they had moved to Pflugerville. Quite a step up.
So we went over there. It was the same ol’ Mom’s. The place was cleaner, they now have wireless, much larger, but the lady that owned it was still there….mad at the world like always. Not much had changed except them taking on a larger mortgage and staying open till late (9pm) were as before it was only until 3pm.
We maybe went to the new place 8 or 9 times and the food was always good, and the owner always unpleasant – not to us mind you, but to her staff, the cooks and bus boys.
We knew someone once that was a supplier of hers and she was horrible to everyone but the customers.
Well, I don’t know what happened, but they are no longer.
Such is life in the high steaks game of small-time family owned restaurants.
The burgers were always good, the breakfast always cheap. The website is still up, so you can see what you missed. Mom’s Café and you can e-mail them at eat@moms-cafe.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Soup Peddler Part II

Holy smokes! These guys know more than soup. Tonight we had the meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. The macaroni and cheese was absolutely decadent, not for the calorie counters out there! The mashed potatoes were fluffy and had just the right amount of roasted garlic. Both dishes worked well with the meatloaf. The meatloaf comes with a tasty Madeira, veloute and demi-glaze sauce that turns this standard into a sophisticated dish.

Tim was already telling me how tasty it was before I even sat down to eat. He's not a fan of meatloaf with tomato sauce so he was glad to see this version. His favorite tonight was the mashed potatoes.

The best part of this meal is that we have enough servings left over to enjoy later in the week!

Jenn.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Soup Peddler

This is the first week of the Soup Peddler season. The Soup Peddler is a really cool idea. The original idea was to deliver homemade soup by bicycle to customers in the Austin area. I've heard people do nothing but rave about the soups. I didn't order last year, but there's a group at my new office that orders, so I decided to join in and give it a try. From what I can tell, this year they've added some entrees and side dishes to the menu so I was interested in getting a variety of items for us to try. This week we ordered Chicken Noodle Soup, Meatloaf, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Macaroni & Cheese. Tonight we had the Chicken Noodle Soup. There's enough soup in the bag for 3 or 4 servings. The soup was thick with lots of wide noodles and big chunks of chicken along with some carrots and onions. It really hit the spot. Tim gave it a score of "pretty yummy" which is a good thing. Tomorrow we'll probably try the meatloaf. We'll let you know what we think.

For all 4 items which will give us about 4.5 meals, we paid $40.50 which seems fair considering it's usually about $20 for one of our meals out somewhere.

The new menu for next week is available on the Soup Peddler site.
http://www.souppeddler.com/ If you're not in their delivery area, you can pick up your order at their location.

- jenn

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Cafe Java Part II

Tim and I headed over to Cafe Java for breakfast on Saturday. They were pretty busy which is good because we're always afraid the good places will shut down because no one knows about them.

Tim had the Java Special breakfast with a side of crispy bacon. The Java special comes with two eggs, two bacon, hashbrowns and toast. Tim always asks for his bacon to be crispy, deep-fried would be ideal. So he often sends his bacon back to get "crisped up" and then was one of those times.

I had the Huevos Rancheros, sunny-side up served with refried beans, hashbrowns and two flour tortillas. I could do without the hashbrowns (a little greasy and salty for my liking) but the rest was quite good.

I think the owner's mom was working yesterday. She fit the description of "Mom or Crabby" who wrote the note about not taking up valuable tables using the free Wi-Fi if there were people waiting to eat.

Tim had iced tea and I had coffee, for a grand total of $17.40 before tip.

We're so happy to find another breakfast place. A couple of years ago we couldn't find any in the area that were any good. Now we have choices to make in the morning.

Cafe Java

There's a new cafe called Cafe Java in Round Rock in the Randall's shopping center on Gattis School Road and AW Grimes.

We like it because breakfast is served all day and all night. We first tried it for dinner last week. Tim had the Chicken Fried Steak dinner special. It was served with corn and mashed potatoes for around $7.99. I had the BLT with egg sandwich which came with hashbrowns for about $5.50.

The menu covers everything: breakfast, sandwiches, burgers, salads, dinner entrees and dessert. They also have a full coffee bar and the prices seem fairly reasonable compared to those Seattle guys. You can also pick up a breakfast taco with your coffee in the morning.

They're open until 9 during the week and until 3 on Saturday and Sunday.
Take out is available.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Boat Yard Grill

Well Jennifer and I have been to this place twice, the first time was horrid. The second time we could tell that they were in a transition period and trying to feel things out.
Today we went in at lunch and were not just pleasantly surprised, we were astonished. The food was awesome.
They have since added a bar outside on the deck, and as we realized last time there is a bar on top of the outside deck, with Adirondack chairs. The top deck is by far the best place to have cocktails in Austin if you ask me - even though we have not tired it. Up top it is quiet, and you can watch the water and the boats.
Back to our meal. I had the Grilled Chicken Club. It was perfect, but how can anything that has bacon not be right? The bread was a perfect compliment to the balance of chicken, bacon, cheese and their dill mayo.
Jennifer had Club Wrap which again was perfectly prepared. They grilled the tortilla first, then applied cheese so it was nicely melted. Then laid out the chicken salad, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, then it was rolled into a burrito size unit and cut in half.
Both lunches were far to large to eat and I would recommend splitting something for lunch and getting a side salad.
They must have been listening to the patrons, because their quality of food has increased dramatically. The fries are still not that of Shady Grove, but far better than most you will find (for standard french fries).
They serve 7up Rolls with all the meals and these dudes are cooked to perfection and a side of honey butter comes standard.
All in all the place is something I would recommend. For lunch the prices are around $8 but the crowd at 1pm was light and we were seated (outside on a cool summer day) with no wait.
It seems that they have taken this place and pulled it out of the shitter with as much more grace of a seasoned fly fisherman. Before this was an anchor holding the Chuy's Group at the bottom of Lake Austin and now they have something to be proud of.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Brickyard Bloody Marys

Having found the ultimate Bloody Mary at the Elephant Room in Austin was quite a find for me. It set the bar for all other Bloodys. This weekend we attended the NASCAR Brickyard 400 Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As we walked in the gate on Saturday for qualifying, I saw a sign for Brickyard Bloody Marys. I thought that a bloody mary would hit the spot, but dismissed it quickly assuming that a bloody mary from a race track might not be very tasty. An hour or so into the driver practice, Tim comes back from buying me a beer and I see that he has decided to give the red nectar of the gods a try. I asked him if it sucked as bad as I thought it would. He said actually it's pretty good and gave it to me for a taste. Wow. I was hooked. He proceeded to tell me that it came out of a tap at the beer stand. Who would've thought you could get a bloody mary on tap?! They had Tabasco on the counter in case you wanted to turn up the heat, but it wasn't necessary. It was the perfect amount of spicy already. It was good and thick and after a couple I could feel a buzz coming on, so I'm pretty sure they weren't leaving out any of the good stuff. This bloody mary was a $5 investment in pure goodness. I have to say that it ranks up there with the Elephant Room Mary. I'm still in awe that someone had the idea to serve up bloody marys from a tap. Where is this person? He or she deserves a raise!

-JT