Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Austin ramble: Two great eateries

It's been a rough couple of years for food around Clear Lake.  Three of my favorite restaurants reportedly closed because of owner decisions (Korean BBQ, Dimassis, and Hans Mongolian Wok) and two others were destroyed by Hurricane Ike (Portofino in Clear Lake Shores and Pappadeaux in Seabrook). 
I'm getting tired of seeing captions like this...
...and this.

Internet chat suggests this Pappadeaux was closed due to issues with location, location, location more so than hurricane, hurricane, hurricane.  In being very difficult to get to on the opposite side of the channel as the Kemah attractions, it reportedly wasn't drawing the profits that its owners expected.

I typically don't like restaurants that I believe promote obese-a-thon style eating (and that pretty much includes 90% of the restaurants out there, in my opinion), but this one made a very good grilled seafood shish kabob which I could get them to serve with grilled asparagus rather than a bunch of starchy rice.  That was literally the only thing I ever ate there, but it was worth paying for. 
That's five restaurants down the toilet, which leaves me with almost no local recourse.  Which is why, when I did a quick trip to Austin last week, I jumped at the chance to get some decent food at a few of my favorite places.
Here's the ultimate in Bad Blogging Form: showing a restaurant dish partially eaten!!  Gross!!  But my daughter and I were so happy to finally get decent restaurant food that taking photos took a distant back seat to enjoyment. 
That's the artichoke dip at Marye's Gourmet Pizza in Westlake Hills.  It is literally the best I've had in my entire life. 
I have yet to find a single decent gourmet pizza source anywhere in greater Houston, even though Houston is the eating capital of America
Most Houstonians, especially suburbanites, probably don't even know what a gourmet pizza is.
This should clarify the matter.  Artisanal ingredients (to the extent possible) are worth paying for because the taste is so much better. 

Screengrabbed from the Marye's Gourmet Pizza website. 
Even when I go to a "better" restaurant in the Clear Lake area, mostly what I'm eating is some combination of the following:
  • Feedlot beef (recognizable by its taste)
  • Factory-farmed vegetables, and/or
  • Farm-raised fish that tastes like little more than antibiotic-ridden alfalfa, no matter what atrocious oil-ridden paste it's "smothered" in. 
Irrespective of the moral implications, how could anything raised in these conditions taste even remotely good?!

This is a screengrab of a "we don't do this" cattle feedlot example pic shown by Live Oak Natural Beef as a counterpoint to their own operations.   These types of smaller artisanal farms and ranches are becoming increasingly popular for obvious reasons - because they supply an alternative healthier grass-fed, non-mass-produced product that simply tastes a whole lot better.  People will gladly pay for stuff that tastes better. 
My other Austin favorite is the old standby, Kerbey Lane Café.
The original location, on Kerbey Lane. 
The situation is absurd.  One can now go to the League City HEB grocery store and buy Kerbey Lane's famous pancake mixes.  But find a decent pancake at a restaurant in League City or Clear Lake??  Forget that. 
Hell, for that matter, you can buy the stuff on Amazon

It's just a pancake, but it's a good one.  I'm not looking for gourmet 5-star exotic restaurants.  Just simple restaurants that offer better-tasting dishes based on higher-quality ingredients. 

Oh and by the way, the ingredients in the box are allegedly not exactly the same as the ingredients in the restaurant pancakes, because obviously they need to keep luring people back to the restaurants, so they can't give away every secret.  You have to go to Kerbey Lane Café itself to get the true original pancakes. 
In sum, I don't know why the suburbs of Houston can't support better restaurants.  With a small number of notable exceptions (e.g., Chuyos), all I've found is the usual chains and franchises and unimaginative mass-produced slop.  But if you're ever in Austin, check out those two mentioned above, especially Marye's.  You won't be sorry. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.