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Cheflambo's Profile

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Phrases You Don't Hear Anymore

"The Creek" referred to the Creek Indians ... the saying goes back that far (or so Im told, by someone probably old enough to know ... )

Any decent store bought sangria?

I agree. A pitcher of sangria is about as easy as it gets. Throw in a few ounces of brandy too. Freeze grapes and drop them in to act as ice cubes.

Aug 17, 2015
Cheflambo in Wine
2

Smallest Pappadeux Seafood place?

I understand. If you want a small, intimate restaurant that you can truly enjoy, stay away from the chains that are near any sporting venue. South Loop (near Reliant Stadium) restaurants are built for, and expect, large crowds of people for before/after game dining, large convention attendees; Offshore Technology Conference takes over everything during the first week of May, and the Rodeo crowd that, for at least 4 weeks a year, drives the economy down there.

I can suggest some really wonderful, intimate, friendly seafood places for you to try (I love guiding newcomers). Let me know which part of town you are in (a zip code perhaps) and Im happy to point you in the right direction.

Aug 14, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

Does It Bother You to Be Photographed While Eating?

Apparently there is one of these people in almost every family. I had an aunt like this -- in your face with a camera at every event. We even called her "Aunt Flash" and "Papparazzi". The non-committal "Please don't" and "I'd really rather not have my picture taken" fell on deaf ears. 7-10 days after every visit, a flat, stiff envelope would arrive in the mail (she liked those disposable cameras so the film had to be developed) containing the duplicates of all the pictures she had taken. She, too, liked the food shots - mouth open, food halfway in, etc. Her family bought her a digital camera a few years before she died and it hardly slowed her down, except that she would stop after every picture to scrutinize the one she just took and there was always one more to take "just in case". Thank God she never figured out how to put them on Facebook.

That said, although I didn't really relish the celluloid evidence of how badly I was aging, we all go through our photos now and say "aww, this looks like one Aunt Flash took" and we're grateful to have them.

Aug 13, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Smallest Pappadeux Seafood place?

At the risk of being a devil's advocate, how can a restaurant be "too big to enjoy"?

Aug 13, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

No kids allowed?

I would definitely patronize a restaurant that made this requirement. Its a sad state of affairs when it has to be spelled out for so many. Yes, mommy and daddy, there are more than a few fine dining establishments whose owners and patrons are NOT interested in spending the evening with your precious spawn underfoot. This is what babysitters are for. And for the record, I've seen 5 year olds actually sit still and quietly enjoy a meal; I've seen 9 year olds who could not control ANY impulse, especially when hungry. Its a slippery slope.

5 Nights: U of H, Washington Avenue, Upper Kirby

Bruce - you are correct. and I stand corrected. I drove past there yesterday, and they are SO not open yet. If the OP can find their way to Helen in Rice Village, I CAN guarantee and excellent meal. Be patient with the parking situation ...

Jul 29, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

5 Nights: U of H, Washington Avenue, Upper Kirby

Fig & Wasp (4105 Washington) is now in the old Beirut spot. Getting good reviews from Alison Cook and is in the heart of the "Wash Ave" trending area. DEFINITELY Catalina for coffee. Also on Washington is Les Givrals (4601 Washington). Light, fresh Vietnamese cuisine (order at the counter, and linger at a table as long as you like - watch traffic go by from the front window). SaltAir Seafood Kitchen (Corner of Kirby & Alabama) is a guaranteed WIN (in the same family with several other fantastic restaurants). Liberty Station is just a bar, but Barbabe Linda Salinas will treat you right. Tell her I sent you.

Jul 25, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston
1

Beloved picky guests

If that were my kid, I'd be SO proud.

Jul 25, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food
1

Beloved picky guests

Here, here! Don't yuck my yum.

I have a SIL who does this. When we are in a restaurant and I order for myself something she doesn't like, I hear (often from the other end of the group table because I purposely seat myself as far from her as possible) "Eww! Don't order THAT!" A few years ago she was on a "no-carb" tangent -- sitting even near her at Thanksgiving was miserable as she pointed out how many grams of evil carbs were on everyone's plate. I am "thankful" I only have to deal with her for a few days each November.

Jul 23, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Beloved picky guests

I entertain lots of guests, but few are of the picky-whiny-"there's-nothing-here-I-can-eat" variety. My friends have their own, legitimate special needs -- one is celiac, another lactose-intolerant. These things are easy to work around. I knew and entertained a couple for more than a year before I learned the wife was a vegetarian -- she never said a thing, made her own meatless choices from whatever was served, and didn't theatrically recoil at the smell of grilling steak or lecture anyone on the evils of eating anything with a face. Yes, it CAN be done.

Jul 21, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food
1

What food or snacks do you have hidden ?

The good wine is in the chiller. The "factory" wine is in the fridge. Mr. Corkdork doesn't know the difference, and will consume the first thing he finds. Twist-off cap? Even better ...

Offering alternative meals to children - yay or nay

A LOT of parents of that generation treated food the same way. I can recall long evenings of trying to choke down vegetables (it was always vegetables for some reason) long after the table had been cleared and everyone else was allowed to do homework or watch TV. The canned vegetables that were mom's only option back in the day were dreary, overcooked and nasty. Even when I became an adult and discovered how to properly cook these things, I still can't face a floret of broccoli or a brussel sprout. And I have tried ... I can't imagine being a parent and forcing a child to eat something they didn't like. My brother is an adventuresome eater, and his 3 boys seem to like everything - when his youngest was about 4 he bounced off to the kitchen to "find us a snack". Imagine my surprise when he brought back a jar of pickled okra from the fridge.

Helen - a new Greek restaurant

The new owner of Helen's is a sommelier; there will be a well-chosen wine list to compliment the menu.

May 21, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

How do you split the bill and tip evenly?

It depends on where you are eating, and what everyone had. If I've got the check, I add 18-20% for gratuity, divide by the number of people at the table, and tell everyone "you owe $___, which includes the tip". With my friends and other Chowhounds, this is seldom an issue. With my in-laws, it would never fly. (Of course, they announce "separate checks" to the hostess, busboy and server as soon as they sit down ... and things go downhill from there).

Coming for work, dinner recommendations

Im having lunch at Jackson tomorrow. Will let you know.

Apr 16, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

Complain or Shut Up?

I understand. I didn't mean that YOU had done that. I just meant that in many cases, people do just say that, regardless of the demeanor of the server, or the quality of the food, because they don't want to "make a fuss" or hurt someone's feelings. A GOOD server will notice that little food had been eaten, ask specifically if something was not right, and offer to bring something else or correct the dish.

Coming for work, dinner recommendations

Main Kitchen at the new downtown JW Marriott might be one to try. Exec Chef Erin Smith has some great, fresh ideas on old standards. Artista, at the Hobby Center, it almost within walking distance of the Lancaster. Part of the Cordua group, it also has an eclectic menu and of course their signature tres leches cake. Of national reknown is Oxheart, but its tasting menu is pricey, and reservations might be hard to get. For seafood, venture south of downtown to Reef (Bryan Caswell was recognized by Food & Wine in 2009 as an up-and-coming chef, who really knows his way around a fish). Best Vietnamese near downtown is Huynh (912 St. Emanuel) a family run place with a very urban vibe. Ive never had a bad meal there, and its my go-to place for pre-theater dinners, and its BYOB.

Apr 12, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

Complain or Shut Up?

If this food was really as bad as you describe, regardless of who is paying, it should be brought to the attention of the server, or management, as soon as it hit the table. Smiling bravely and telling them "everything is OK" sends exactly that message. You're happy with the food. Instead, give them a chance to serve you something else, although it sounds like almost everything coming out that night was borderline inedible. Some chefs/owners/managers pay close attention to personal correspondence regarding their restaurants; others do not take the time to read, or have time to respond, to every personal inquiry made by a disgruntled customer.

Thanks to social media, people who dont have the courage to go face to face with their complaints have no problem posting their specific issues in a public forum. This is where the responsible parties WILL look, and although in this case their response was a boilerplate denial that anything was bad, at least the rest of the world now knows you had a bad meal at that restaurant. (BTW, they'll probably deny that they ever got your email).

Starting Dinner Early

This is clearly a textbook case of passive-aggressive behavior. The fact that your fiance enables it is definitely a red flag, as well as a lack of respect for you. Are they otherwise kind and thoughtful towards you? Does this happen only on week/work nights, or on the weekend as well? If your fiance is not able/willing to help them understand that you want to be on time, and cant or wont persuade them to wait for you, your marriage will be fraught with this type of behavior. Once, and just once ... just say no. "Sorry - can't make it that early". And stick to it. Your other choice is to consistently show up "late", but act like its no big deal.

Apr 04, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Market Shoppers: Get out of the quick check out line. You have too many items...

People, please. This is a busy shopping week. Good Friday is the #2 shopping day of the year behind Black Friday. Cut your fellow shoppers a little slack. If there is no one IN the <12 lane, its OK (take a deep breath) to let someone with 15 items check out there. They will add no more than 90 seconds to the process. Are you really in THAT big a hurry? Don't worry about the cigarette people either; they will be dead from their nasty habit in a few years, and you'll just sail through checkout then. Isn't self-checkout available in your favorite store? You can stand there all day and take all the time you need.

kenny and ziggy s deli

Ziggy Gruber is the real deal. He wants everyone to eat well, and carry on the deli tradition. Houston is lucky to have him.

Yes. the menu is daunting. But servers are well versed, and won't let you order something you probably dont really want. Be prepared to take a large portion home. His kosher stuff is really authentic, right down to the pickles. And the movie depicts him supervising everything. He really does.

Apr 01, 2015
Cheflambo in Houston

Anyone else hate the new Saveur makeover, or is it just me?

As long as they continue to use photos by the amazing Penny De Los Santos, they can do whatever they like. I have not seen the March issue - were there significant changes? That said, I have the Jan/Feb issue in front of me here, and it is mighty thin. FWIW, needlessly expensive kitchen gear appears in ALL of these magazines (including G&G). I would like to see more recipes (F&W is still good for that). I, too, miss Gourmet - that magazine started it all for me.

I'm the turtle at the table .

I am the turtle around here ... Spouse is the hare. I allow him to read while he eats (when its just the two of us at home) and he still eats twice as much in half the time that I do. In restaurants, he just wants to eat and go; he's often signing off on the check while I am still (trying to) enjoy my meal. Linger over coffee or a brandy? - "we can do that at home". Sigh. All too often I just get a to go box and enjoy the rest of my meal the next day. I'm used to it. His family is like this too. His brother and SIL descend on their food like starving dogs when we go to restaurants. NO ONE waits for "all to be served" before diving in.

LATECOMERS FOR DINNER

People who are purposely late to these things (family meals, social events, etc.) enjoy the attention and feeling of control. When you let them know you are annoyed, you are enabling this behaviour. Serve dinner on time to those who show up -- chronic latecomers get cold food and no further fuss made about them. When (if) they call en route, just tell them "ok ... we'll see you when we see you!"

I dated someone like this long ago -- late for everything, making ME often late for events (I missed a friend's wedding but got to the reception as it started -- I was an HOUR late to MY birthday dinner my parents were throwing for me). I tried the "see you when you get here" approach and eventually he started paying more attention to the time, but he was never on time for anything. As the owner of a successful engineering management company, I am amazed that his clients put up with it.

Best Ways to Halve and to Store Fresh Bagels?

Why is everyone slicing these BEFORE you freeze them? (I use a bread knife, too, but dont cut until Im ready to eat)

Funniest Restaurant Names

Houston also has a wine bar/restaurant called Plonk.

Restaurant Web-Site Fails...

Im not complaining. And apparently they closed on time. The hours on the door said they closed at 10. Its the website that is at fault here (since fingers need to be pointed) not the restaurant itself. No, the corporate office can offer anything they want to assuage a cranky customer; it doesn't necessarily mean that the word will filter down to the specific franchise or branch. No, clean as you go, while patrons are still in the dining room, is not really an option. You'd be complaining about that too. You seem to be expecting an apology and a free pizza because you showed up after they closed. Even for New Jersey, that's a lot of chutzpah.

Mar 22, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Restaurant Web-Site Fails...

Thanks, autumm, for putting this into perspective. If your clients are putting their phone number and hours on the front page, there is no excuse for people to not CALL the restaurant and confirm their hours and reservations. As I've said, a website is only as good as the entity that maintains it. Social media is the place to go for last minute cancellations, closures, specials, etc.

Mar 22, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food

Restaurant Web-Site Fails...

Don't hold your breath waiting for the local manager to respond. Corporate made a promise they had no way to fulfill. And don't hold that against them. If there are no customers at 10:09, even though their corporate website says they close at 11, it is reasonable to expect them to close up, clean up and go home. They aren't going to wait around for you to come sashaying in at 10:10 and get you fed and out by 11.

Mar 22, 2015
Cheflambo in Not About Food