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Houston's Oldest Restaurants

How about Vargo's?? I remember being taken there in the 60s and was so impressed by the grounds. Have no idea what it's like now, but the setting was so pretty.......

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Vargo's Restaurant
2401 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 77063

Oct 03, 2011
Ms Ghost in Houston

Thanks to Hounds and a report

Thanks to those of you who posted in reply to my question of where to take a group of 9 for dinner and still be able to talk!! It seemed that most replies, given the restaurant ideas I put forth, indicated Philippe Restaurant. That's where we went and thanks so much--it was wonderful! We had wandered in a couple of days ahead to scope it out, and Kim, the lady in charge of booking private rooms and such, was SO helpful. Although their smallest private room was already booked, she showed us a reasonable alternative that was in a corner rather than in the center of the room.

Everybody enjoyed the dinner immensely. The food was not only imaginative, but cleverly presented as well. It was fun to taste bites of what everybody was having, and with that many people, we were able to have quite a cross-section of items. Stand-outs were the crab and avocado appetizer, ingeniously served in a "jar", the drunken foie gras, the salmon main course, beef cheeks with the delicious mac and cheese, the filet and the wonderfully-presented desserts.

The service was nothing short of fabulous! Our waiter, Vik, was outstanding in his ability to anticipate our needs and keep things flowing seamlessly. Not an easy job considering there were 9 of us, and he had a number of other tables as well. All in all, it was a memorable dining experience!

We also had a good dinner at Tony Mandola's new location--had a great table and were impressed with the new space. Calamari a la mama were as good as always, and the service was very good. Also went to Branch Water where the food was great, especially the shrimp and grits with slow-cooked egg and the popcorn.....but the accoustics really need improving! Too bad we didn't know to eat in the separate, closed-off room which, while full, was at least apart from the cacophony that was the rest of the space. The waitress seemed overwhelmed by it all, and the service suffered as a result.

Houston has so many varied and interesting dining experiences! No wonder people don't want to stay home and cook in this miserable heat!

Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions. I can't imagine a more fun experience for our group than Philippe!

Jun 13, 2011
Ms Ghost in Houston

Which restaurant would you choose, given these options???

Thanks so much for your insight! I didn't realize that MidTown was for the whippersnappers!! I should have mentioned that the majority of the group fall into the 50+ crowd with the exception of a handful of the 20somethings! Thank you!!

Jun 03, 2011
Ms Ghost in Houston

Which restaurant would you choose, given these options???

We're coming in from out of town and want to visit with family we don't often get to see. I've been looking at menus, and the ones that sound the most interesting are, in no particular order: Mockingbird Bistro, Samba Grille, Philippe, Branch Water. My main concern is noise level in that we'd really all like to be able to hear each other and catch up with what's happening. It would be a Weds. night, if that helps re: noise level and ambiance, which are perhaps even more important than the food. The other option would be the Remington Restaurant at the St. Regis, as we have eaten there before and the food was good plus it was a quiet, restful place.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/insight!!

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Mockingbird Bistro
1985 Welch, Houston, TX 77019

Jun 03, 2011
Ms Ghost in Houston

Tony Mandola's new location???

Anybody been since he moved from West Gray? We used to love to go there and sit outside to watch the world go by! Does the new place have outside dining? I had also read that he was only at the Westheimer location temporarily while building a new restaurant. Anybody know where it is going to be??

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West Gray Cafe
415 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019

May 24, 2011
Ms Ghost in Houston

Austin to Bandera Trip

In Comfort, a great place for lunch is 814 A Texas Bistro. Check out their website, plus there is an incredible chocolate store across the street. The best place in Bandera isn't in Bandera--it's in Tarpley which is a 15 minute drive. See www.macandernies.com for their weekly menu. It's much better than anything in Bandera!! There is also Pike's Place Restaurant just south of Bandera between it and Pipe Creek.

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814 A Texas Bistro
713 High St, Comfort, TX 78013

Apr 27, 2011
Ms Ghost in Texas

Which model Miele dishwasher -- or a Bosch?

I have both a Miele and a Bosch in two different houses. I thought I absolutely LOVED the Bosch UNTIL I got the Miele La Perla. You literally have to put your ear to the thing to see if it is running! Since the house is one big room for living/kitchen/dining, that is a huge plus. Also, it gets the dishes cleaner than ever, even long-stemmed wineglasses. We actually use it mostly for glasses and silverware (love the top rack! gets things SO clean!), and use a Paykel dish drawer for plates which I don't like nearly as much, but, just for rinsed plates, it's fine.

Jan 15, 2011
Ms Ghost in Cookware

Staub used as serving dishes???

Since the interior is not non-stick, as I had at first assumed, is it possible to use pieces of it to serve, for example, rack of lamb, where one would be using knives and forks to eat it? Or would that damage the surface? Just got a whole bunch of pieces that would be really neat as serving dishes as well, but am afraid to use them without some "feedback"! TIA!

Jan 14, 2011
Ms Ghost in Cookware

First Prime Rib - Advice on Method Please!

Here's the easiest recipe that I have used for many years! Variations of it are found in several cookbooks, especially the old Jr. League ones. It does NOT matter the size of the roast! I've used the same "recipe" on a 2 bone roast and, this Christmas, on an 18 1/2 pounder! Let the roast sit out for about an hour so it isn't fridge temp. Have oven pre-heated to 375. Generously salt and pepper the outside of the roast plus I insert slivers of garlic here and there throughout the roast. Put roast in preheated oven for one hour at which time you turn the oven OFF. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! 40 minutes (plus 5 minutes to rest) before you wish to serve, turn oven on to 375. The only caveat is that there should be a good 6 to 7 hours between the initial hour roasting and the final 40 minutes. The roast comes out a perfect medium-rare to rare in the center and is always tender and delicious.
In intervening years I've experimented with Cooks' Illustrated VERY Best Recipes, using certain specified ribs, etc. etc. They were good as well, but, honestly, I couldn't tell the difference! This year, due to time constraints, I went back to the "tried and true" recipe for the 18.5 lb roast and it was fabulous! I did give it an extra 5 minutes on first and last cooks, but only because I feared not all the guests would prefer it quite so rare in the middle. We love it that way and all raved. No stress, and the cook can concentrate on the other parts of the meal!

Jan 09, 2011
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

TEXAS MONTHLY - 50 BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS

Anybody else who has tried Sol Luna in San Antonio and been less than impressed?? We went there a couple of years ago for lunch, and didn't think it was so great.....thus have never been back. Is there something we SHOULD have tried?? I don't even remember what we had as it was not memorable. Anybody else have "feedback" on this particular restaurant? As I recall, there were very few other patrons there at the time we were--for a reason????

Dec 07, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Baby shower in San Antonio

One of Chef Dady's other restaurants, The Lodge at Castle Hills, has several areas that would work for that number of guests. The one that comes to mind is on the second floor. The Lodge is a lovely old rock house that, although in the city, used to be the country house of a well-to-do oilman and thus has a wonderful, cozy atmosphere as a restaurant. The food is excellent!

Nov 12, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

What to serve with Chicken Marbella???

I've served it with a cous cous that has dry sherry, orange juice, currants, carrots, green onions, cinnamon and paprika plus a couple of other things I can't remember. People always seemed to love it, and the mixture goes well with the chicken marbella.

Sep 20, 2010
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

Best place to order lobster + salad ideas for it

DH reminded me that some time ago we saw a piece on the CBS Sunday AM Show about a company called Catch a Piece of Maine. I just checked their website, and they have fresh, picked lobster meat available so that sounds like the way to go. Anybody had experience with this company??
Unfortunately, c oliver was correct that there are no fishmongers nearby in the Hill Country of Texas!! Not unless one counts the catfish and/or bass that swim in the river in back of the house!
Thanks for your help!! Any more recipe ideas?

Sep 03, 2010
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

Heading to San Antonio

Even though you don't enter Mexican Manhattan from the Riverwalk, it has a very nice patio area in the back on the river!

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Mexican Manhattan
110 Soledad St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Sep 03, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Best place to order lobster + salad ideas for it

I'd like to serve a cold lobster salad for my father's upcoming 88th birthday lunch, and I keep thinking of the delicious one at Gary Danko in San Francisco. Found one on epicurious that has fresh tarragon--of which I have a garden full--so am considering that. Anybody else have lobster salad ideas or, more importantly, where I can order the lobster itself?? Guess that frozen tails would be o.k. since it's in a salad or is the flavor of the fresh that much better?? Birthday is in two weeks so PLEASE HELP!!!

Sep 02, 2010
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

Looking for Breakfast Places open early near or west of Galleria

Try the St. Regis Hotel dining room just off San Felipe about 2 blocks south of Loop 610. They have a wonderful pulled brisket and potato hash topped by two poached eggs served with an incredible Hollandaise. All of their breakfast offerings are very good, and they have one of my favorites, fresh ruby grapefruit juice! The space is lovely and even when crowded, tables are well spaced and it's quiet.

Jul 14, 2010
Ms Ghost in Houston

Broadway, San Antonio

Cappy's, on Broadway just north of Central Market, has great food and charming ambience plus a tree-shaded patio if it isn't too hot. Also, just a couple of blocks north of Central Market is Paloma Blanca--great Mexican and also a lovely patio. Plus The Heights Margarita is terrific (it's in Alamo Heights).

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Cappy's
5011 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209

Jul 11, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Anniversary Weekend in San Antonio

Brasserie Pavil doesn't fit my idea of a romantic restaurant simply because the space is too big to be "cozy"! It's quite striking in decor--so much so that I have always felt the decor was better than the food itself. And, as you point out, it is quite a ways from the Riverwalk. A better choice, IMHO, is Bistro Vatel, located just north of downtown. It has French bistro food, but is much better than Pavil plus it better fits the romantic description. www.bistrovatel.com to check out the menu.

As far as lunch on the Riverwalk, we love Boudro's! The Southwestern Steak Frites is SO good, as are the nopal margaritas. Get there right as they open (I think 11) to get a good table RIGHT on the river, and it has great views of a little bridge, the river, ducks and interesting buildings.

Can't help you re: crowds as we always try to go at "off" times.

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Brasserie Pavil
1818 N. Loop 1604 West Suite 101, San Antonio, TX 78248

Bistro Vatel
218 E Olmos Dr, San Antonio, TX 78212

Jun 24, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Riven Rock Grill (Comfort TX) You been?

A group of six of us went in Feb. and thoroughly enjoyed it! Whereas the description "mom & pop' might be accurate, they are a sophisticated mom & pop! Didn't see the old folk as it was night, but we've been meaning to return in the day to see the views as at least some of them must be spectacular. The patio area was enclosed with see-through, thick plastic and there were space heaters so it was quite comfortable. There is also a large, covered pavilion type structure that was still apparently under construction. It had a nice water element running around part of it, so I'm sure will be very nice when finished.
The menu, though limited, was varied enough to appeal to every taste in our group. All of us enjoyed everything we had, and there was a nice wine selection as well. Don't know if they have a full bar as we only ordered wine. I think it's a wonderful addition to the Hill Country dining scene!

Apr 08, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

need hill country recs

August E's is fantastic!
http://www.august-es.com/about.html
Also, depending on what direction out of town you'll be, I've heard a lot of good things about Rose Hill Manor. I've been wanting to try it, but here's a link to their weekly changing menu page:
http://www.rose-hill.com/menus.html

Feb 25, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Athens, TX restaurants?????

Thanks for taking the time to reply....I wasn't expecting anything fancy, but my online searches hadn't turned up either of the places you mentioned! Will probably check out the Marina for the view!

Feb 25, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Athens, TX restaurants?????

We have to go to Mabank for an overnight trip but plan to stay in Athens as the motel situation there looks more promising. As far as restaurants, though, all I have found were comments on an Applebee's, Rounders Pizza and The Jalapeno Tree (duh--Mexican). It doesn't look too promising but does anybody have any "feed"back for me re: the above mentioned or anything else in the area???? TIA!

Feb 23, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

SAT-When chefs depart

Had an excellent lunch at Ciel some months ago--can't remember how long--with the same wonderful menu BUT the location was hard to find. We got off 1604 at Stone Oak thinking it was not too far from that intersection....once we were almost to 281, we found it, but not after having had to turn around. Having been in the real estate biz, the old "location, location, location" phrase does, unfortunately, have merit. It wasn't THAT hard to find if determined, but I guess not enough were..........would have been nice if they had perservered because the ambience was lovely. Service was DEFINITELY not as polished as Bistro Vatel, but we didn't expect that. We were just glad there was a location closer to us than the original. Just sorry it didn't work out!

Jan 30, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

SAT-When chefs depart

Sam, what's up with La Fritte and Damien Watel?? Had an excellent lunch at Bistro Vatel on Tues. and was sad to learn that Ciel will NOT re-open as is stated on the website. Did the failure of that venture lead to him selling La Fritte or what?

Jan 30, 2010
Ms Ghost in Texas

Date night in San Antonio

The Lodge at Castle Hills is in a lovely old rock house that used to be out in the country and still has enough real estate around it to have that feeling. Since it was a house, the rooms are small enough to give an intimate feeling to each one. The food is excellent as well. There are other restaurants with great food, too, but this would be my first choice for a romantic atmosphere!

Dec 23, 2009
Ms Ghost in Texas

Best Houston Burgers

For a really great burger, try the Remington Bar in the St. Regis. I know, everybody is going to howl that this is not a "burger joint"! BUT, that said, especially in the late afternoon it has a great atmo with dark booths, lots of wood around the bar, and fab burgers. You can have them medium rare if you so desire, the fries are TERRIFIC, good cheese choices, and there is a whole separate plate with probably 4 or 5 different lettuce choices, pickles, onions, giant tomatoes and the mayo & mustard to add yourself. I think the price is $15, but the burgers are huge--have never been able to eat a whole one. To me, it's the perfect bar burger and ambience.

Dec 10, 2009
Ms Ghost in Houston

Turkey stock.....or not??

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond! I really, really appreciate it, but in the end decided not to take any chances. Although my fridge is well within the cold ranch according to the thermometer (it's out in the garage and not opened and closed constantly), I'd then worry if the soup I made from it wasn't immediately consumed. My DH "sealed the deal" when he reminded me that my 87 yr-old father joins us for dinner nightly, and may not have the immune system of us (no so young) folks!

Dec 01, 2009
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

Turkey stock.....or not??

Here it is Tues., and it's the first chance I've had to contemplate the nicely-trimmed turkey carcass in my fridge. It has been resting there since Thurs. early afternoon. Is that too long to now toss it in a pot with carrots, onions and celery to make some stock? It wasn't stuffed, if that makes a difference. I had meant to do this Sat., but there was always something else happening. Would appreciate opinions since I'd love to make homemade stock, but on the other hand, don't want to poison anybody partaking of it! TIA!

Dec 01, 2009
Ms Ghost in Home Cooking

Houston Trip Report

We absolutely LOVE Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen!! Haven't tried the oysters since I'm not crazy about them. We always seem to gravitate to our two favorites--calamari a la mama (you have to ask for the a la mama part as it isn't on the menu) and Shrimp Larry!

Oct 27, 2009
Ms Ghost in Houston

Heart of the Hill Country

Be sure and check their website first for days and hours. Catfish is only seved Fri and Sat. Naylene usually posts that weekend's menu on her website on Friday mornings, but the catfish is always there. Also cabrito burgers--and she does a wonderful job with lamb, especially the chicken fried lamb (I know, SOUNDS awful, but it's SO good).
www.macandernies.com

Oct 08, 2009
Ms Ghost in Texas