Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Chef House Restaurant Breakfast

Deciding that we can’t have too much of a good thing, we visited The Chef House Restaurant again this morning.  It proved to be as delightful a dining experience as yesterday's lunch.

Eggs Benedict
Once again – but certainly not typical for breakfast – we started with chips and the three different salsas. That alone makes the visit extraordinary.

Esmeralda (Esme), the co-owner, recommended the Eggs Benedict, which I ordered. My husband opted for the breakfast special. We judge a breakfast on several menu items – bacon is one of them and cooking our eggs to our ordered specification is another. His bacon was perfect – crisp, thick and well seasoned – and yes, I sampled it. Our only disappointment was the one strip serving. We wished for more - but there's always another time. His over-medium eggs were cooked to perfection.

Breakfast Special
The Eggs Benedict melted in my mouth. I’m not sure what Silvano (the chef and co-owner) added, but the enhanced flavor gave a unique quality to one of my favorite dishes. Both our breakfasts were served with a fresh and delicious potato patty.

Prompt and excellent service again added to the overall experience. From the moment we open the front door until we step back out, The Chef House speaks of excellence and dedication to taste, presentation and quality.

Please check out my previous blog post about our lunch at The Chef House. The restaurant, located at 101 Queen Isabella (Hwy 100) in Port Isabel, TX, is open from 7:00 – 3:00 Tuesday – Saturday; 7:00 – 2:00 Sunday; closed Monday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Chef House Restaurant in Port Isabel, TX

Chicken dinner special
“Once in a blue moon” is a phrase I heard from my dad. Although the original meaning of the phrase hadn’t been verified, it was easy to know it meant something uncommon – something that occurred “once in a great while.”

Great finds in new restaurants are like that. Once in a great while, I stumble upon a restaurant experience so cool that it takes my breath away. It may be the food, the ambience, the presentation or a combination of all three.

Today I found The Chef House in Port Isabel – one of those “once in a blue moon” occurrences. Located at 101 Queen Isabella Blvd (Hwy 100), the restaurant is small and nondescript outside.

Having read favorable comments from a Facebook friend, we decided to give it a try. The menu offers both Mexican and American food, typical of many places in south Texas. A tantalizing aroma hit us as we walked in the door.

Our waitress (also the owner) brought us chips and three salsa choices. We liked all three but couldn’t get enough of the pico de gallo, which was laced with plenty of cilantro and just the right amount of freshness.

The waitress brought soup and then entrees to the table next to us. When the customer said “Awesome presentation!” I questioned, “May I take a picture?”

She had ordered the day’s special – cream of spinach soup and a chicken breast with mushroom sauce and steamed veggies. After the first bite, she assured me that it tasted as good as it looked.

I ordered the enchilada dinner with green sauce – one each of beef, chicken and cheese. My husband ordered a chicken fajita burrito. We echoed our neighbors with our “it tastes as good as it looks” comments. The food oozes “freshness.” Each bite was a delight and I can’t wait to go back and try something different.

My iced tea glass was continually refreshed and the owner seemed genuinely interested in our comments about our food.

Along with the complimentary chips and salsas at the beginning, the restaurant also offers a complimentary dessert. This exquisite concoction combined chocolate with fresh fruit and a touch of cinnamon. It couldn’t have ended any better.

The Chef House has been open nearly two years. I wish I’d found it sooner, but I promise you I’ll be back far more often that “once in a blue moon.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Family Cafe, La Cygne KS

If you ever drive US 69 from Kansas City (Kansas side) south to Ft. Scott, KS, you'll pass an exit for Hwy 152 and the town of La Cygne. If you're hungry and it's before 2pm, treat yourself to a good old-style home-cooked meal. Just head west toward town and you'll pass the Family Cafe.

Owned and operated by a local family, they offer all kinds of comfort foods. Their tenderloin sandwich is huge and delicious with a thick slab of pork tenderloin - one of the best we've had. My husband and I split one with an order of Suzy-Q potatoes and we're stuffed when we leave.

If we can't pass up the thought of sharing a piece of chocolate pie, we usually split a cheeseburger - one made with good beef that tastes home-cooked.

Their breakfast - including their biscuits and gravy - is very good. Service is always given with a smile and sense of humor. Best of all, if you want to know what goes on in small-town America, just sit and listen to the locals a while. Most are farmers or commuters to the Kansas City area.

We've become regulars when we're in the area!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Neighborhood Cafe, Lee's Summit, MO

Every town deserves a “home-cooking” kind of restaurant. For Lee’s Summit, Missouri, it’s the Neighborhood CafĂ© at 104 SE 3rd Street, right smack dab in the middle of town.

If you want comfort food or a meal like “Grandma used to make,” you’re in the right place. As soon as you sit down, you’re greeted by a friendly welcome and a hot home-made cinnamon roll. Forget about the diet for a minute and treat yourself. It is melt-in-your-mouth fresh. Apparently the rolls are a long-time tradition and the restaurant’s new owners chose to stick with it.

I didn’t look for healthy food so I can’t speak to that. My husband ordered chicken-fried steak and I ordered chicken-fried chicken. Both were served with real mashed potatoes, gravy and a vegetable. The second time we visited we had the Wednesday special, fried chicken. The food was great but I’m glad they didn’t provide a calorie count.

The restaurant offers a selection of home-made pies but after a meal, there’s just no room left. We’re saving that for another time.

When you visit, be sure to check out the walls in the second room. One is home to photos of Lee’s Summit veterans. Two others are covered with newspaper headlines from historical events.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Prison Brews Microbrewery in Jefferson City, Missouri

Pizza Ovens
If you visit the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, take the time to visit Prison Brews Microbrewery and Restaurant just a couple of blocks away at 305 Ash. (Phone: 573-635-0678)

Its uniqueness hits you when you walk in the door. The prison bars speak of fun and relaxation in this setting - totally opposite of the prison tour experience. Menu items are named appropriately for the prison setting: like the Prison Reuben, the Prison Break Burger and Jail-House Fries.

The bar behind bars
Prison Brews boasts seven beers ranging from Go-to-Jail Ale to Rapsheet Raspberry and Big House IPA. With six people in our group, we ordered two beer samplers. I liked the Rapsheet Raspberry, Everett liked the Go-to-Jail Ale and the Jailhouse Java Stout, Sarah preferred the I Ain't Your Honey Wheat.

We all sampled some appetizers: the Jail-House Fries, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Beer-Battered Onion Rings. For dinner, several of us ordered salads. Everett ordered a Cranberry-Walnut Salad that he really enjoyed. Since pizza is their specialty, I ordered a Pepperoni Pizza and was pleased with my choice.

At Sarah's suggestion, we shared a dessert - aptly named the Shawshank Redemption Pie - with lots of cocoa fudge, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Needless to say, we all forgot our diets for a little while!

We ranked every food item very good. While the owners may have fun with menu item names, they're serious about quality food and excellent service. Prison Brews is a great way to spend a relaxing meal-time adventure.

Oh, yes. I forgot to mention that the restrooms carry a unique name. Almost makes one nervous to use the facilities!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Johnny Rockets in Downtown Denver

Spencer's (our server) catsup artwork
If you're planning to visit Denver, plan to spend some time at the mile-long 16th Street Mall. Denver has created an enjoyable outdoor shopping experience with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores and offices. When we searched for a place for lunch, we walked by Johnny Rockets and Chris noticed a $5 menu. The price sounded great and we liked the '50s decor.

Everett ordered a patty melt, Chris a grilled chicken sandwich and I had the original hamburger. All came with all-you-can-eat fries. None of us wanted more than our first serving because of the generous amount. We all appreciated the skins-on flavorful real-potato taste.  We enjoyed our sandwiches and declared our meals excellent choices for $5 each.

Spencer, our waiter, served us with flair as shown in the accompanying photo - his catsup creation for our fries. He got our vote for artist-of-the-mall!

We later googled Johnny Rockets and found that it's a 200-unit international chain that started in L.A. in 1986. Today they serve 13 million hamburgers per year.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Los Compadres - Clinton, Missouri

If you're heading to Truman Lake, or anywhere between Kansas City and Springfield, MO, you'll most likely drive through Clinton on Hwy 13. It's a favorite stop for food, snacks and gas. Nestled around the Hwy 13/Hwy 7 intersection, you'll find a Walmart, all kinds of fast food, restaurants, retail stores and a couple of hotels.

If you haven't done so already, check out the strip center behind the McDonald's and Wendy's. Nearly five years ago, a new Mexican restaurant opened. Los Compadres has become a favorite of locals and travelers.

Everett, Chris and I were traveling from Branson to Kansas City. As we headed for lunch at Wendy's we noticed the Los Compadres sign. When we first walked in the door, we noticed both the cleanliness and the comfortable feel.

The chips and salsa pleased all of us. Chris asked for hot salsa. He and Everett found it interesting. Chopped jalapenos and crushed red peppers gave it the right amount of heat and good taste. Our waiter, Derek, told us they offer salsa in mild, medium and hot. They automatically serve the medium but you can request either the mild or hot.

Derek introduced us to the menu. When I asked him for a suggestion, he told us his favorite lunch was the chicken Burrito Compadre. His enthusiasm convinced us all to try it. We normally try different menu items but what can I say - Derek was persuasive.

The extensive menu lists plenty of options for varying tastes - for both lunch and dinner time.

We all enjoyed our burritos although none of us finished our meal. It's a big burrito that comes stuffed with meat (chicken or beef), rice and beans, covered with cheese and fresh, crisp lettuce. I ordered mine without the rice. The marinated shredded chicken is cooked in-house and was flavorful.

The owner - and I'm sorry I don't remember his name - said he moved to the United States twelve years ago to work in his uncle's restaurant in Seattle before he opened Los Compadres. We were fascinated by his story that he came here to study architecture and ended up a restaurant owner. After we left, I realized I hadn't asked him why he chose Clinton.

With good food and excellent service, you can bet we'll stop there again. Next time, we'll make sure we order different selections to sample some of the diversity.