Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: For the Masses

Service: Good Service

Reservations: Not Necessary

Location: 1207 Emerald Bay Road in South Lake Tahoe, CA

WebPage: http://erniescoffeeshop.com/

Earnie's

Experience: When we were hiking Eagle Falls, we ran into a couple that recommended Ernie’s to us for a meal on the way back to South Lake Tahoe. Apparently, right down the road from Ernie’s is also Bert’s Café – https://www.bertscafe.com/ . They said both were good places to eat, but Ernie’s was their first choice. They love Ernie’s Bloody Mary. I didn’t have one, but if someone goes out of the way for them, I suspect they are quite delicious!

Food:

Ruben: Corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand island dressing, swiss, on rye.

I had this dish with a side of sweet potato fries. It was delicious. No complaints!

Ruben & Sweet Potato Fries

2 Egg Breakfast: 2 eggs any style, home fries or hash browns, and 2 slices of buttered toast.

My husband ordered this breakfast plate and substituted the toast for biscuits and gravy. He said it was all really tasty, but the hash browns could have been crispier.

Final Thoughts: This was a cool local spot. Quite busy. Decent food, good prices….can’t go wrong.

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Candace Rating: Not so good…

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Good Service

Reservations: Required

Location: 100 Lake Parkway, NV 89449

WebPage: http://edgewoodtahoe.com/dine-imbibe

Restaurant

Experience: We had a 6:00p PT dinner reservation (which for our stomachs was 8:00p CT) and the sun was not down yet, which I thought would be perfect so that we could see the water and mountains, BUT the sun was streaming into the windows pretty strong, even with the “see through” shades, so my husband and I kept having to move around the table throughout the meal to keep from being blinded.

We were assigned a French server who thought himself really funny. About as quickly has he greeted us, another server (or two) re-greeted us and took our table instead. Strange.

Beverages: Old Fashion & Antipodes Sparkling Water

Food:

Bread & Butter

Herbed rolls with flake salt and butter. Delicious!

Seared Diver Scallops: Jamon Crumbs, Cauliflower Puree, Lemon Confit, Sherry Carmel Reduction

Our appetizer was these tasty scallops. I thought they were going to be over cooked, just by looking at them, but they were quite perfect and yummy. The breadcrumbs were pretty pointless, the crust on the scallop was all the texture that was needed.

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I had pretty high expectations after the scallops…..

Seafood Risotto: Day Boat Scallops, Main Lobster, Tiger Shrimp, Smoked Mussel Veloute, Prosciutto Lardons, Spring Peas

The fried prosciutto was tasty. The scallops once again were cooked well and yummy. The shrimp….well they were shrimp, nothing to write home about.

The dish went downhill at the risotto and this is a risotto dish. It was thick, clumpy, and dry. Thank goodness they had a sauce at the bottom to help, but basically it ruined the dish and I didn’t want to eat it. I ate the seafood and left the rest. I did provide feedback, however it wasn’t taken well.

Gordon Ramsay would be firing the risotto chef for the cook on this risotto! According to Gordon, risotto should be smooth, creamy, and velvety. This was not!

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Seared Elk Tenderloin: Brown Butter Spaetzle, Roasted Carrots & Asparagus, Sun-Dried Dark Cherry Relish

While my husband did eat most of this dish, because he is like Mikey…..he still had some things to say about the dish, as do I from tasting it.

This dish feels like a winter dish vs. a summer dish.

The brown butter spaetzle were not soft like an egg noodle and the cherry relish was too sweet. The two asparagus spears were good, but there were only two. The carrots weren’t cooked quite enough; they were basically raw with dehydrated skin. The elk itself was cooked well and tasted good, although it needed more salt upon searing to form a better crust.

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I was pretty over the place by the time we got to dessert.

They were nice enough to bring us a dish of a local ice-cream, to celebrate our 4-year anniversary. It was delightful!

Local Icecream

Misc.: The restaurant is located within Edgewood resort, tucked away on the South Lake Tahoe shore. It has a beautiful golf course,  lodgespa, and private beach access. It is also a wedding venue; there were two wedding celebrations occurring when we were there for dinner which was so fun to see.

The bathrooms are not close, you have to walk back down stairs towards the entry doors and down more stairs to the lower floor level.

At the end of our meal, we stepped outside a door to take in the view of the water and mountains before we left (see a couple pictures above), the door locks and you cannot get back inside. We beat on the door until another patron let us back inside.

Final Thoughts: I honestly thought that this would be the best dinner meal we would have while in Tahoe. I was quite wrong. This was the most disappointing meal of our trip. While the view is incomparable, the food that was served wasn’t worth the price.

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t Wait!!!

Price: Averaged Priced

Service: Ok Service

Reservations: Not Necessary

Location: 3542 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

WebPage: http://www.brewerylaketahoe.com/

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Experience: Our experience upon arrival was not fantastic. We seated ourselves, because no one was at the entrance to seat us. No one came to us. So my husband went inside to get a beer at the bar and find a server. Someone stopped by when he was inside and I ordered a drink. J Then my husband comes out with his beer and my drink, they gave him my drink to give me instead of them bringing both drinks to us.

Eventually a server came to our table and took our order. It took a while, but the order got in. Once that occurred, it was smooth sailing on the service front. Then when it came check time, it took a little longer than we like, but I guess CA time is a little more laid back than TX time.

The menus are huge! Lots of choose from.

The Food:

“Old Bay” Style Beer-Steamed Shrimp: Peel “N” Eat – Chilled and served with tangy cocktail sauce and lemon

You can’t go wrong with peel “n” eat shrimp. They were fine, the cocktail sauce was good.

BUT, you can’t taste the beer and the seasoning is put on the outside of the shell you peel off, so that is pretty pointless.

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Cheese Ravioli: Raviolis filled with 6 different cheeses served with our Alfredo Marinara sauce. Topped with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.

My husband was pleasantly surprised how delicious this dish was. It was recommended by our server and it doesn’t disappoint. He said it was really really good! A must order.

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Fish “N” Chips: Served with malt vinegar and tartar sauce. I swapped the chips for onion rings with ketchup and ranch dressing.

My dish was really yummy. The onion rings were crunchy and the batter stuck to the onion! (insert clapping here) The fish was perfectly cooked; it was crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. I would recommend this dish as well.

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Misc.: This place is located right off the street so it can be quite loud with cars passing by, but when it’s summer time in SLT you don’t sit inside.

Final Thoughts: If I lived in SLT, this would be one of my favorite local spots. It’s laid back. It has a large beer and cocktail menu. And it has a very large food menu. The food is good and the prices are decedent. It’s a popular spot, put it on the list.

Candace Rating: Pretty Good Stuff!

Price: Average Priced

Service: Good-ish Service

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry (depends on what time of day you go)

Location: 325 East Fourth Street, Reno, NV 89512

WebPage: http://thedepotreno.com/

View From Our Table

Experience: When we arrived we were greeted and told that we could sit in the bar area or in a side room, that the upstairs was closed until dinner time. We sat in the bar area, which typically means that you’ll get better service than if you sit in a dining room with a server….but that wasn’t the case here. The restaurant wasn’t that busy and while the bartender/server was friendly, he wasn’t very on top of things / prompt. Perhaps it is the West-coast laid-back attitude, I’m not sure….cause the guy was from Illinois.

Drink Menu

Albees Knees: High Country Gin, Lemon, Lavender Honey, Lavender bitters

My husband had some sort of stout or Guinness.

Beverages

The gin cocktail was delicious, light, and refreshing.

Food Menu

Brussels Sprouts: Maple Sherry Vinaigrette, Bacon Bits

Brussel Sprouts

Some of the larger ones, weren’t cooked through, not soft, still hard. The smaller ones were soft and tasty. They needed to be set on a rack after frying to allow for the remaining grease to come off, but they still had good flavor and we enjoyed them. We were also pretty dang hungry by this point.

Soft Shell Crab Po Boy: Fried Crab, Remoulade, Shredded Lettuce, Tomato, and Choice of Side = Fries

This sandwich was delicious. The fries were crispy. The fries were served with their in-house homemade ketchup that was too liquidy (not thick like ketchup at all) and tasted like a fresh marinara sauce…not like ketchup in anyway.

Soft Shell Crab Po Boy

Chicken & Waffle Sandwich: Waffle Envy Waffles, Fried Chicken, Fried Egg, Caramelized Onions, and Choice of Side = Sweet Potato Fries

The waffles were flavorless. But the bite all together was good. The fries were crispy. It was served with in-house homemade BBQ sauce that tasted more like ketchup to me.

Chicken & Waffels

When I brought up my opinion and displeasure about the ketchup sauce to the bartender / server, he said they were proud of their homemade sauces and didn’t offer to switch anything out for me. We waited longer than we should have had to for everything (except the brussels sprouts), starting from the drinks, to ask about the weird sauces, to the to-go box, and the check.

Misc.: I was disappointed because the upstairs of the restaurant was closed during the time we were there, so I we weren’t able to see or experience the location fully. Also, we were there during Weekend Brunch time and we weren’t able to order off the larger menu, aka the full dinner menu. You can check out their dinner menu here.

Final Thoughts: The building has a cool history that you can read about here. I think my expectations were too high for this place, so the experience was a letdown for me, but generally speaking it was an ok place with average everything, except ketchup. If you are in the area, it’s still worth stopping in and checking it out.

Candace Rating: Pretty Good Stuff

Price: For the Masses

Service: Should Have Been Better

Reservations: Not Necessary

Location: 14830 State Route 89, Markleeville, CA 96120

WebPage: No dedicated WebPage

Experience: This was definitely a small town experience. The people were nice. The menu was limited, but good. Service was lacking, but we weren’t in a hurry.

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The burger was suggested to us by our server so, my husband and I both had it with fries.

The burgers automatically come with lettuce, tomato, and onion. We both added cheese. I eat my burgers with bacon, mustard, and pickles only. My husband added bacon and jalapenos.

My burger came out with no bacon, no mustard, and no pickles. **Blink blink**

It took a few minutes to get someone’s attention to get me the three things I ordered with my burger. Once I got them and put my burger together, it was delicious.

It was cooked well. It had a nice smoky flavor and char on the meat. The fries were crispy.

Burger & Fries.PNG

Misc.: Unfortunately, for us and the other patrons, the ownership of the restaurant and bar had switched a couple of months back and the new owner was having issues getting the liquor license switched over, which meant that there was no booze to be had at the time we were there. We watched more than a handful of people come in and turn around and leave at this news.

Final Thoughts: The restaurant is located in a fairly remote area, I think there are only three restaurants in the town. The historic charm and tasty food is worth stopping in for.

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t wait!!!

Price: Averaged Priced (for good sushi), Relatively Expensive

Service: Excellent

Reservations: Not Necessary. During peek hours, yes, better safe than sorry.

Location: 6615 North Grand Parkway West, Spring, TX 77389

WebPage: https://bloofin.kwickmenu.com/

Art

Experience: Both times I’ve been here….so far, I’ve received friendly, informative, and prompt service. Very pleased with the level of service. The restaurant is nice, clean, and has natural light.

The Food

Hama Chili: Baby Yellowtail, Orange, Thai Chili, Tobiko, Yuzu

I ordered this cold appetizer both times I went, because it is fan-dang-tastic! I did not eat the chili on it either time, because they are too hot for me. I’ll likely ask them to leave them off the next time I order this dish, which will be the next time I go. The yellowtail is buttery soft; it pairs well with the thin slices of apple, ginger sauce, and micro greens. I cannot speak highly enough about this dish.

Red Moon Roll: Seared Pepper Tuna and Avocado Top with Spicy Salmon and Wasabi Sauce, Tobiko

I also ordered this roll both times I went. It was so good the first time around, I wanted it again.

Shaggy Dog Roll: Shrimp Tempura, Cucumber, Avocado, Eel Sauce, Spicy Mayo, Soy Pepper

My good friend Ursula and my husband, on separate occasions, both ordered the Shaggy Dog roll. They both said that it was delicious.

Truffle: Shrimp Tempura, Cucumber Spicy Mayo covered with Seared Hamachi, White Truffle and Caviar on top.

Truffle

This roll is very tasty! It is rich and fragrant. I highly recommend this one.

Misc.: This restaurant is newly opened near me and I love sushi, but am usually a little skeptical until sushi places are recommended to me. I asked around and people said that it was good. I’ve been twice in two weeks since I was told it was fresh and delicious. The menu is more extensive than just sushi, but I doubt I’ll eat anything other than sushi here.

Final Thoughts: If you live nearby or feel like a drive for sushi, check this place out. It sits near/in a large shopping center so you can make an afternoon of it, eat and then walk around shopping.

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t Wait!!!

Price: Averaged Priced

Service: Good Service

Reservations: Does Not Accept

Location: 105 Main Street, Round Top, TX 78954

WebPage: https://royersroundtopcafe.com/

Honor System

Experience: Our experience was funny, interesting, and charming at the same time. For the funny, see the picture above. The interesting part was that they have a “host” / “gatekeeper” that has quite the prickly demeanor. He reminded me of an old grandma that doesn’t take no crap! You just do what he says and you’ll be fine.

Angus Pasta OMG!!!: Beef sautéed in a red wine crème sauce with portabella mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes on Fettuccine pasta.

Angus Pasta

The pasta and steak were both cooked perfectly. The dish was so flavorful, I wanted to hold the bowl up to my face and lick it. I managed to refrain….

Micah’s Pasta: Shrimp sautéed in olive oil, white wine, fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, and topped with parmesan cheese. Served on fettuccine pasta.

Micah's Pasta

My friend ordered this dish. It is boasted as their “first light dish!”. She said that it was delicious! It definitely looked and smelled fantastic.

Shrimp N Grits: Cheese and jalapeno grits served with Cajun spicy shrimp. Made with cream sheese, pepper jack and American cheese!

Shrimp & Grits

No additional sides were served with this dish as it had a lot-o-grits! My husband said that the grits were very cheesy and creamy. And the shrimp were perfectly cooked.

Steak & Sides: Steak with two sides – creamed-corn and mashed potato casserole

Steak & Taters

My friend’s husband order steak with two sides and gobbled it all up. Matter of fact, I don’t think there was any talking at this table at all during the meal.

Lunch & Dinner Menu Link: https://royersroundtopcafe.com/menu-2/

Misc.: When we asked the local folks where we should eat, this was where they suggested. It is a very tiny place on the inside and there seems to be a line of wait list just about any time of day. My friend and I were allowed by the gatekeeper to go in and get drinks from the bar and bring them back out on the porch to drink while we waited for our husbands to arrive, before being seated. Make sure you have plenty of time and are not starving to death when you arrive; but it’s totally worth the time!

The View

Final Thoughts: If you ever find yourself in Round Top, TX for either of the semi-annual Antique Fair Week(s) (http://www.roundtoptexasantiques.com/show-dates) or to shop a big Junk Gypsy store (http://gypsyville.com/) or just want to get out of town to a purdy part of Texas, drive over there and eat at Royers Round Top Café! I’m looking forward to going back.

Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: For the Masses

Service: Should Have Been Better

Reservations: Not Necessary

Location: 5210 FM 2920, #100, Spring, TX 77388

WebPage: http://www.thistledraftshop.com/

Thistle Draft Shop

Experience: Our experience has been overall good ones. It has been mixed for me personally. The first time we went to Thistle we had good service by a friendly bartenders, but the fries were greasy. I’m not sure if they weren’t drained well or if the oil wasn’t hot enough, but I couldn’t eat them. The second time we went to Thistle the food was good, but the service was lacking and the bartenders weren’t very friendly this time.

Truffle Fries: Parmesan, thyme, white truffle oil, garlic aioli

Truffle Fries

The execution of this dish was a fail. I do not think the oil was hot enough when they fried these; they were very greasy and I couldn’t eat them. I also couldn’t taste the truffle oil.

Pretzel Knots: Served with red dragon beer cheese, honey grain mustard.

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These came in plain and jalapeño. We ordered the jalapeño, they were not spicy hot. The red dragon beer cheese was so delicious I could eat it with a spoon. The combination of the jalapeño pretzel with the red dragon cheese sauce is probably one of the best things I’ve put in my face in a long time! We ordered a second order of them with double cheese sauce they were so good.

Bacon Grilled Cheese: Sourdough, bacon, sharp white cheddar, creamy tomato soup with tagarashi (I think this is misspelled on the menu. I think it is supposed to be Togarashi; a Japanese word for chili pepper) croutons.

Bacon Grilled Cheese

The bread was also greasy, but still eatable. The best part of this is the dipping of the grilled cheese into the soup. The combo was good, but separately the items weren’t that great.

Sliced Beef Sandwich: white cheddar, olive relish, creamy horseradish, French baguette.

Sliced Beef Sandwich

My husband ordered this dish. He said it was good; he ate it all. 🙂

On our second trip to Thistle we split the Bleu Burger: bleu cheese, smoked bacon, caramelized beer onions, garlic aioli, sesame seed bun. I unfortunately ate it all so fast that I forgot to take a picture of it! I was impressed with it, the burger was scrumptious, and the fries were not greasy.

Misc.: The appealing part of Thistle for us is that they local; bosting local owners, beers, and locally sourced foods. They have 50 beer taps. The décor and atmosphere will keep us coming back.

Final Thoughts: It is a new local spot about a mile from our house. We will continue to keep this place on rotation. The people sitting next to us had the Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Vietnamese Wings. I think next time we go, I’m definitely trying the Crispy Brussel Sprouts; they looked and smelled yummy. And….if I get the burger again (which I probably will), I’ll take a picture of it and update the post.

Crisp

Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: Average Priced

Service: Excellent

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry.

Location: 2520 Research Forest Dr., Spring, TX 77381

WebPage: http://crispwoodlands.com/

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Experience: We made a reservation, but that night it really wasn’t needed. We enjoy sitting at the bar, but all the seating areas are lovely. The bar tenders are really nice.

Baked Texas Goat Cheese & Marinara: Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce, Soft Garlic, EVOO and Drunken Garlic Bread

This dish was soooooo very flavorful and delicious. There was a nice balance of acidy from the tomato sauce, not sweet, the perfect amount of garlic with the bite/twang of the goat cheese was absolutely delightful! The garlic bread was also flavorful all on its own; a balanced combination of soft and crunchy.

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Melting Beef Short Ribs: Soft Polenta, Wilted Spinach, Braised Mushrooms, Picked Parsley and Red Wine Braising Liquids

My husband ordered this dish. Ironically there are no bones, just tender meat. The braising liquid was good enough to drink straight. I ate his mushrooms and they were fantastic! He enjoyed this dish very much.

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Surf & Turf Risotto: Caramelized Scallops, Beef Short Rib Risotto, Asparagus, Organic Spinach and Veal Stock Reduction.

I ordered this dish. I’ve eaten it once before and enjoyed it so much I ordered it again. The scallops were perfectly cooked, very tender. The beef short rib risotto is sooooo good! It is basically the meat combined with the risotto mixed with the asparagus and spinach. You also cannot go wrong with crispy onion strings on top! Yum! The veal stock reduction is very flavorful, a nice little sweet and savory touch. I’m personally a bit more of a sour girl, so a squeeze of lemon balances it out more for me. You cannot go wrong with this dish!

Surf & Turf Risotto

Misc.: The cocktails, wine, and beer selection are good. The desserts look good; I’ve always been too full to eat them though.

Final Thoughts: This is our second time to eat at this restaurant. They serve high-quality delicious food, calm and fun atmosphere, and nice people. You cannot go wrong! It will remain on our restaurant rotation list.

Candace Rating: Pretty Good Stuff!

Price: Relatively Expensive (depends on what you order)

Service: Started Good / Ended at Should Have Been Better

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry.

Location: 21706 Burnet Dr, Galveston, TX 77554

WebPage: http://westendmarina.com/restaurant/

Experience: We were able to make a last minute reservation. We were seated about 15 minutes after our arrival. Our server was Denise; she started out strong, however as the evening wore on and she was given more tables our service quality reduced.

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Lovely dark bread served with a sweet whipped butter. The bread was crusted on the outside and perfectly soft on the inside.

Bread

West End Calamari: No Description

The calamari was very flavorful! It was served with cherry peppers (not spicy) and tossed in a sweet chili sauce. They were a touch overcooked (some of the pieces were a little rubbery), but they were eatable for sure.

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We would have liked them a whole lot more had the kitchen took the time to remove the seeds from the cherry peppers. You do not serve cherry pepper to people with the seeds in them, I was super surprised at this choice by the chefs since this is a higher end establishment. I was not pleased with scraping off seeds so I could eat the food.

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Pork Belly Eggrolls: No Description

This starter was the bomb! I could have eaten a whole second plate of them. They were not oily, perfectly cooked, the pork belly was tender (not fatty), and served with a roasted tomato chutney. The chutney was really good. My only improvement to this dish would have been to remove the tomato skins from the chutney.

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Bone-in Ribeye: 14 oz, aged 21 days

My husband ordered the ribeye medium-rare and it came out medium. Our server was not the person who delivered our food to the table, so there was not an opportunity to cut into the steak to check the temperature to make sure that it was cooked correctly. He went ahead and took a bite while waiting for our server to emerge and it was so “melt-in-your-mouth” scrumptious he decided to keep it. He shared a piece with me and it had a wonderful flavor and texture. His sides were risotto (which I thought was under-cooked) and veggies.

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Mac’N Cheese: No Description

I ordered a side of mac’n cheese and had a couple of bites of his steak for my supper. This dish was an absolute disappointment for me. The pasta was a bit too al dente for me. It was not cheesy, creamy, nor had any flavor or seasoning. Epic fail on the mac’n cheese front.

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Misc.: Be aware there are two places to eat at this location: one is The West End Restaurant which is located upstairs and is a higher-end “white-tablecloth” experience; second is the Sandbar located downstairs and is a bar atmosphere with music and “bar food”. We’ll likely try out the Sandbar downstairs sometime, when we are back in the area. We ate at the upstairs restaurant and sat outside on the patio. Sitting on the porch was nice, breezy, and pretty.

Final Thoughts: We may come back to this place to try it out again and see how things go. The parts that they got right it was really right! The parts that they got wrong were really wrong! There is a lot of potential here and it could be an extraordinary dining experience, if they correct some of the dishes. I was 50/50 when I left on how I felt about the food.

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Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Should Have Been Better

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry. I did overhear the hostess saying that they Do Not Accept reservations after 6:00p or 6:30p

Location: 1625 E Beach Dr, Galveston, TX 77550

WebPage: http://www.porchcafe.com/

The Porch

Experience: We made a 5:30p reservation and sat on the porch. It was Independence Day weekend so there were a lot more people than the last time we were here at the end of April. The place filled up shortly after we arrived. We were seated as soon as we arrived, but it took 17 minutes before anyone took our drink order. I got up and went to the hostess to ask for someone to come to our table for service. They only serve beer and wine, they do not have a liquor license. The server listed off several beer options for my husband and then came back saying the first two my husband requested they were out of.

Avocado Caesar: Romaine, Parmesan, Bacon, Avocado, and Caesar Dressing

We both had this salad for our starter. It was a tasty salad; the Caesar dressing was delicious. They were a little stingy with the bacon, which let’s face it is the reason to order this salad.

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Blackened Redfish: Grilled Shrimp with a Pontchartrain Sauce

My husband ate the redfish dish and he said that it was delicious. The pontchartrain sauce was awesome! And the grits were cooked perfectly.

Red Fish

Crabcake: Served with Fried Crawfish, Roasted Corn, Red Bell Peppers and a White Wine Butter Sauce

I ate the crab-cakes for my dinner. As you can see they looked a mess. The crab-cakes themselves were not formed, they were a mushy consistency and fell apart. I was not impressed. The flavor of the crab-cakes were good; there was a blunder on the execution. The crawfish tails were a nice idea for a crunchy consistency, however they were a bit of a miss for me as well; being a little oily and over battered. While I like the look of the cut lemons, they are not functional for squeezing. The sauce was a nice consistency, but was a little over spicy. Thank goodness for the sweet corn parts to counterbalance some of the heat.

Crab Cakes

Misc.: It would be nice if the owner would agree to get a liquor license. Even if he doesn’t utilize the bar area as a “bar” he could offer liquor to his customers who are eating meals. This was our second time to eat here this year, the first time my husband’s dish wasn’t that great and the second time mine wasn’t that great. I would love to see some consistency in the execution of every dish.

Final Thoughts: We will likely go back again to see if both of us can have a good meal at the same time. We really love the atmosphere here and time on the porch.

View

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t wait!!!

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Good

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry.

Location: 8540 Creekside Forest Dr., Tomball, TX 77375

WebPage: http://www.refugeinthewoodlands.com/the-refuge-steak-and-bourbon

Menu 1

Experience: We decided last minute to go eat at The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar. We called to make a reservation and wanted it for 6:30p, but they said they could take us at 7:00p. We arrived at 6:30p and decided to wait at the bar and have a cocktail. My husband noticed that the table they ended up seating us at was sitting open and free for our use since our arrival at 6:30p, so we are still unsure why we couldn’t have a 6:30p reservation time or wasn’t seated when we arrived, instead of being made to wait for 30 minutes. (it’s a mystery)

Cucumber Press: This was my choice of cocktail, minus the Sprite to avoid added sugar. It was delicious! The Tajin rim made this drink!

Cucumber Press

My husband had an Old Fashion made with their homemade bitters. He said it was very well made and delicious.

Pork Belly 3 Ways: Blue Cheese Crusted, Smoked, and Maple Bourbon Glazed served on a Garlic Crostini with Mixed Greens

Who doesn’t love pork belly!?! This appetizer was very scrumptious. I cut each one down the middle so we would both get to have a bite of each flavor. I took my meat off the crostini and ate them with the greens and my husband ate all of it as served. My husband’s favorite one was the smoked and my favorite one was the glazed, despite my love of blue cheese.

Pork Belly 3 Ways

Wood Fired Steaks with Two Sides: 8oz Filet, Brussel Sprouts, Breaded Truffle Mac

When I go to a steakhouse it is very difficult for me not to order a steak, particularly if it is my first visit. The steak was cooked well, nice crust, and correct temperature. The Brussel sprouts were flash fried and then pan finished; I found them to be crispy and had good flavor…but they were way  too oily. I’m not sure if they weren’t put on a rack to drain properly or what? (it’s a mystery). The breaded truffle mac was nicely fried, creamy in the middle, but the truffle oil was so subtle that I didn’t think that it had any in it at all. My husband tasted it as well and said it did have truffle oil, but it was lost on me. Next time I go, I’ll likely pick different side dishes.

Redfish: Served with Corn Succotash, Cheesy Grits, and Hickory Smoked Beurre Blanc sauce

My husband said the fish was cooked perfectly. The grits were smooth and creamy. The plate was empty so it must have been very yummy.

Redfish on Cheesy Grits

Sopapilla Cheesecake: Cheesecake filling sandwiched between two pieces of puff pastry, served with whipped cream and toasted almond slivers.

This is their twist on cheesecake. I liked that it was not overly sweet and the cinnamon level was nice. The whipped cream was yummy and light. I didn’t like that it was cold, right out of the refrigerator. It was ok for me, I don’t think I’d order it again. BUT, my husband really liked it!

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Misc.: The ambiance of the restaurant is energetic. The owner and manager were super friendly and accommodating. My husband really liked that the owner was actively involved on the dinning floor. He received a mini-tour, see pictures below. They are currently sourcing their wood from Bastrop for the wood-fire grill. Belinda was our bartender and was super nice and made perfect drinks. Anthony was our server and was good when he was there….they got quite busy as the evening wore on and perhaps he had too many tables at one time because service level increasingly declined over time.

Side Note: The lighting is not ideal for taking pictures, there were lots of shadows, sorry.

Final Thoughts: There were a few kinks here and there, but all-in-all we enjoyed our time here and plan to go back.

 

BTW: This is what sometimes happens when my husband wants to take a picture of me…..

When my husband takes my pic

The door behind me is a walk-in cooler and there was another door across the room that is a walk-in wine room….I didn’t go see because they got so busy I didn’t want to be a pain in neck.

It has been a hot minute since I have posted about restaurants. Mostly because….LIFE….and focusing on my ByCandace: Food, Fitness, and Fun page and cooking at home more than eating-out.

But…I’ve been inspired lately to get back into sharing my dining-out experiences with you.

Once again….(2 years later)….check out the article linked below about some great new restaurants to try.

15 New Houston Restaurants and Bars We’re Looking Forward to This Spring and Beyond

If you go to any of them, please invite me! 🙂

 

 

Porch Café

Posted: May 11, 2017 in American, Galveston, TX, Seafood
Tags: , , ,

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t wait!!!

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Good

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry. I did overhear the hostess saying that they Do Not Accept reservations after 6:00p or 6:30p

Location: 1625 E Beach Dr, Galveston, TX 77550

WebPage: http://www.porchcafe.com/

Porch Cafe

Experience: We arrived around 5:30p for dinner and sat on the porch. There weren’t too many people there that early, as time went on the place filled up. Our server was young and fairly inexperienced (it showed), but he was polite and accommodating.

My husband ate the bread and butter, since I’m gluten-free. It looked really good though.

Shrimp & Grits: Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, Parmesan Poblano Grits & Charred Lemon Chimichurri

My husband ordered this dish….because grits. He said the dish was good. He was generally underwhelmed with the consistency of the grits, they were clumpy and dry.

Shrimp & Grits

Rock Lobster Tail & Side of Sweet Potato Mash: no descriptions provided

I ate the lobster tail and the sauce…both were soooooo delicious! I could have eaten 2 or 3 of them.

The sweet potato mash on the other hand I was not a fan of. It tasted like there was maple syrup added to it making it way too sweet.

Lobster Tail

Misc.: The ambiance of the restaurant is charming, warm, and lovely. It is what you would expect of a higher-end establishment in a beach town – wood, light colors, and breezy. It is aptly named for sure; the porch is covered and screened in. Do not sit inside if you can help it. It is romantic and I would say not a great place for children. Any dress code goes…we were super casual, but there were people showing up in nicer dinner attire as well.

Final Thoughts: We really enjoyed our time here and plan to go back next time we are in Galveston. The food was good, it was quite, and the lighting was nice. Overall a good experience.  

The Italian Joint

Posted: August 12, 2015 in Italian, Spring, TX

Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: Averaged Priced

Service: Excellent  (we were the only people there at the time)

Reservations: Not Necessary  (dinner time is busier than other times of the day)

Location: 26420 Preston Street, Old Town Spring, TX

WebPage: The Italian Joint Facebook Page

Experience: We stopped by this joint on a Sunday afternoon and had lunch at 1:00p CT. We were lucky we were the only people in the place because we were able to ask all sorts of questions and take a short tour. Our server was accommodating and the chef was friendly. Both were super nice to us.

All seven appetizers sounded yummy to me….if they had a way for me to try all of them I would have been in heaven!

Spicy Garlic Shrimp: lightly fried gulf shrimp, hot cherry peppers, sundried tomatoes, lemon and fresh basil

This dish was sooooo good! If you only have the room in your stomach and money for one appetizer….go with this one! The sauce was so good we sopped-it-up with all our bread. Now if that is not a complement to the recipe designer and chef I don’t know what is! Also, the shrimp were perfectly cooked and not over done.

Spicy Shrimp App

Fettuccine Bolognese: no description provided…..although I do believe they make their pasta in-house.

This dish was pretty dang good. I like meat in my sauce vs meatballs, but I am a saucy kind of gal and would have preferred more sauce to meat ratio. Loads of fresh parmesan cheese topped it off. This is not a dish you can take home and reheat, it didn’t work well for me anyway.

Linguini Bolognese

Manicotti: house made crepes filled with spinach, ricotta and mozzarella, marinara sauce

My husband gave me a taste of his dish and it was quite delicious! The plate was VERY hot….do not touch it. If you give the dish a few minutes to cool down a bit, it set-up nicely. He was pleased with this dish and promptly ate it all gone.

Manicotti

Tiramisu: no description provided

This was soooooooo very yummy. If you want to make sure you are able to fit this in, order it and eat it after the spicy shrimp dish but before your main dishes. You will not regret it.

Tiramisu

Misc: The inside of this restaurant is lovely. It is an old house gutted and redone. The kitchen is big and open. They have an upstairs for parties and catering. The downstairs only seats about 40 people, so it is an intimate yet casual environment. They sell wine and beer. They also have fresh herbs on each table that look and smell wonderful.

Sprig of Rosemary

Final Thoughts: I am excited to go back to this joint and order nothing but appetizers and dessert! I guess I will have to go back until I have worked my way through the whole menu. I hope you all go and check it out and support our local, one-of-a-kind, family-owned and operated business.

The Black Sheep Bistro

Posted: August 3, 2015 in Spring, TX

Candace Rating: DO IT!!! Don’t wait!!!

Price: Some items were Averaged Priced and Some items were Relatively Expensive

Service: Excellent

Reservations: Required

Location: 326 Main Street, Spring, TX 77373

WebPage: www.theblacksheepbistro.com

Experience: We went to celebrate a birthday so we had 10 people in our group. There was also a second table later that came in of at least 10 or 12 people. Together we took up the whole main dinning space, it was quite loud. At one point the smoke from the kitchen had filled the room and a few people’s eyes were burning….however the smell that accompanied it was mouth-watering, so we did not mind so much! From looking at the menu you can tell right off that Joe puts great thought into the quality of food he cooks and serves. Our server was Eric and he was awesome. He was very patient, courteous, knowledgeable, and generally on-top of things. The second big party did stretch him a bit thin.

Lets get down to the food, shall we……

The hero of the night was the Lamb & Beef Sliders: fresh ground lamb and filet mignon, roasted red onion, tomato and bacon jam, blue cheese, challah bun, field green salad

Everyone who tasted them raved about them and made lots of Mmmmmmm sounds.

Lamb & Beef Sliders

I believe the runner up was the Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass: miso and sake marinated Chilean sea bass, soy garlic spinach, toasted sesame

The fish was perfectly cooked, the flavors of the dish were delectable. The garlic spinach was sooo good.

Sea Bass

The two dishes that were quite equal in their yummyness were….

Moroccan Style Red Drum: served with couscous, toasted almonds, medjool dates, charred tomatoes, and chermoula sauce

My husband was blown away by the couscous. He loved the sweetness of the dates mixed with the nutty flavor. There was a lot of Mmmmmm going on next to me.

Red Fish

Filet Mignon: oven roasted filet mignon, rosemary roasted potatoes, sautéed asparagus, cabernet demi-glace

This was my dish. I find it very difficult to turn down a filet when I see it on a menu. It was perfectly cooked (between medium-rare and medium). It had a nice flavor; it could have stood to have a bit more of a crust on it. The asparagus was also perfectly cooked, not too crisp and not too squishy. Unlike most restaurants that serve asparagus with their stakes who only use salt and pepper to season, they also thew in some garlic which I really appreciated. I could have eaten double the amount of asparagus because it was so tasty. I am not a huge mashed potato fan, but these were very good and flavorful. They included the skin, left some chunk, just enough butter and cream, also had nice seasoning to them. The demi-glaze was also so good you could drink it.

Steak

Double Cut Pork-Chop: quinoa salad w/ sugar snap peas and grilled pineapple, 5-spice and maple glaze

The pork chop, pineapple, and quinoa salad was good. However, I was told she did not care for the maple glaze on the dish. It stuck to the plate and the sweetness of it threw her off. Had I taken a picture of the end of the meal you would notice that it did not stop her from eating it all up.

Pork Chop

Usually I start with the appetizers and work my way through the rest of the meal. Only a few people ordered appetizers. Someone ordered the crab cake, which was good. The sauce was pretty spicy. The roasted beat salad was also ordered and was delicious. And lastly the oysters which disappeared in a flash.

Oyster

We did also go for desserts: the Chocolate Mousse with Wild Berries was hands down the most fantastic! I want to go there and beg them to teach me to make this dessert! It IS that good! The Wild Berry Tart with Ice-cream was delightful. The Cannolli, in my opinion, is not that great. The shells are bought and the filing made in-house. I have had some really good cannoli in my time and these did not measure up. Eric was nice enough to brew me some decaf coffee to go with my dessert. The coffee was good and I really appreciated the extra effort.

Misc: The Bistro is in a small house in Old Town Spring. It is charming. Joe who is also the chef and his wife Maria own and run the restaurant. Joe was very nice and accommodating. It only has one bathroom so do not “hold it” if you really have to “go”. They do serve beer and wine. You can also BYOB for a $20 /uncorking fee. Also, take note that Joe often changes up the menu items so if you do not go soon, these particular items may not be still on the menu.

Final Thoughts: Overall we had a wonderful experience and will be going back with frequency.

P.S. Please forgive me, some of the pictures are not the best quality.

Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: Average Priced

Service: Good

Reservations: Not Necessary

Location: 1660 West Lake Houston Parkway, Kingwood, TX 77339

WebPage: www.sharkyswaterfrontgrill.com

Experience: We randomly found this place. We drove approximately 30 minutes from home to check it out and we are so glad we did! There was some hustle and bustle going on, fairly busy spot, we decided to belly-up to the bar instead of sit outside or wait for an inside table. When the weather is cooler, we would have opted for an outside table, because the water-front views are beautiful. The Sharky’s Menu has quite the variety on it. Everything from burgers, soups, salads, and sandwiches….but boasts about their seafood! The seafood selections are vast and delicious. The service was good and the staff was friendly. The food came out within a reasonably amount of time, even though the restaurant was busy.

We started with a calamari appetizer called Shark Bait Crispy Fired Calamari: served with marinara and a horseradish cream sauce that was sooooo good that I ordered extra to eat with my entrée.

Calamari

English Fish & Chips: beer battered cod served with fries and tartar sauce

When I eat at a place like this, semi-casual seafood place, I start with fish and chips. If they mess up a standard dish like this, I am usually too scared to go back and try something else. This however was very well done. I did not eat much of the fries because I was full of calamari. I should have substituted for something else light like a side salad or other veggie. The fish was perfectly battered and cooked. It was served with malt vinegar, which I LOVE and I got an extra side of the horseradish cream sauce instead of using the cocktail sauce or tartar sauce. The tartar sauce I did not like, it had a weird flavor I could not put my finger on.

English Fish & Chips

Hook, Line & Sinker Platter: breaded catfish, breaded oysters and shrimp served with fries, cocktail and tartar sauce

My husband ate this dish and said it was quite good. All three fishes, oysters, and shrimps were devoured.

Hook, Line & Sinker Platter

Misc: Parking was not ideal in that area, but after finding a street parking spot we saw they do have a public parking garage. You will still have to walk a short distance. The views from the restaurant are quite nice!

On the Water

Boat Dock

Final Thoughts: Overall we had an enjoyable experience and look forward to going back again.

Candace Rating: Not So Good…

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Bad Bad Super Bad

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry

Location: 3701 Travis St., Houston, TX 77002

WebPage: http://sparrowhouston.com/

Experience: This was my second time at Sparrow. The first time I ate here I had a wonderful experience. The place was hoppin! Good atmosphere. The food was very tasty and beautifully presented. The hostess was nice and the server was on top of things. The first server was also courteous and helped us navigate the drink and food menus.

Now…on to this time….

Upon arrival the hostess was not around, after waiting for a short bit she emerged. After being seated it took an unusually long time for our server to arrive to the table. Once she did we did receive water. We ordered drinks and appetizers, a little longer the bread arrived, much longer only half of our drinks arrived, then a little after that the appetizers arrived, and then about half way through our drinks and appetizers the other two people’s drinks finally arrived to the table. Our server was MIA most of the night. We kept having to ask the busboy for items we needed (straws, spoons, etc.). I also had to ask him to find our server and let her know that we were ready to order our entrees. She finally arrived and we ordered. Then she went MIA again. The food came out much faster than anything. We did order refills on drinks, which continued to be a slow process. After we finished eating we told her we did not want dessert but would order another drink as our dessert for the night. She went MIA again, I finally got up found her and told her we wanted to order more drinks, on my way to the ladies room. I was met with a bit of an attitude. We drank the last round and closed out. To try and make it simple we wanted to use a $50 gift card off the top of the bill and the remainder on a credit card. She came back stating that the $50 gift card was not working. After investigating, we noticed that she had separated off $50 from the main bill onto a separate bill, inflicted a 20% gratuity on it and then tried to run it for the full amount. We ended up putting $50 on a separate credit card instead, because it was not worth the effort to explain her error to her. Also, the restaurant charges for water, regular’ole filtered water.

Let’s talk food….

Appetizers

Avocado Sashimi: almond sambal, lemon

This appetizer was a whole avocado sliced, with the smallest amount of sashimi I have ever seen. While it tasted good, it was more like eating avocado with a lemony salad dressing on it. Where’s the fish?!?

Shiitake Mushroom Dumplings: blue cheese-honey sauce

This appetizer was delicious! I believe there were four dumplings. Perfectly cooked and the sauce was drinkable good!

Main Dishes

Mac’n Cheese Shrimp’n Grits:

There is no macaroni noodles in this dish. It is the cheese sauce they use for the mac’n cheese mixed into the grits.

Shrimp

Bacon-wrapped Beef Tenderloin:

I ordered the bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin medium. It came to me done, brown all the way through. It was tender and tasted good regardless. It was served with a gravy that completed it nicely and provided more flavor. I used all the gravy on the plate. I am not sure it would have been as good without it since it was over cooked.

Beef

Pork Three-ways:

The friend that had this dish simply told me that this dish was ok, but nothing special, nothing that he would tell people to come here and eat.

Kobe Beef:

The friend that had this dish was unhappy with it because it was under cooked, tough, and she was having to saw through it with a knife.

Side Dishes

Milled Potatoes: choose topping of beet-ginger chutney; poppyseed crème fraiche; braised bacon

Naturally we choose bacon! I am not sure what everyone else was expecting but I was not expecting a bowl of mashed potatoes with a tiny amount of bacon in the middle. I was underwhelmed with this dish to say the least.

Bacon

Fried Green Tomatoes:

This dish was good. The tomatoes were cook perfectly. It was served with a slaw to put on top; but there was so little of it on the dish that I did not even see it. I found it on my second pass on the dish and frankly it did not provide much flavor and no crunch that a slaw should.

Fried Green To

Crispy Brussels Sprouts: ginger caramel miso

The brussels sprouts are soooooo delicious! This was the dish that I came back for! They are cooked to crispy perfection! (flash-frying)

Misc: There is no parking, only valet. The valet was on top of things. I love the bar area of this restaurant and they have a community table, which I really love the concept of. The rest of the restaurant is a little cramped for space to maneuver around tables getting back and forth from the restrooms or bar. It is a cool little building and has a nice feel inside.

Final Thoughts:

Overall the experience was bad. The service was terrible. The bar and server were really slow. The food was over cooked, under cooked, lacking flavor, and unimpressive presentation. Perhaps Monica is losing her edge? Her kitchen? Her interest? Whatever the reason may be we were all very disappointed, and that is a sad thing to say when your bill is almost $400. Pretty unacceptable to me. We are likely only to go back here for bar service, dumplings, and Brussels sprouts….if at all.

Side Note: Sorry to my readers for the lack of and poor quality pictures; I almost forgot to take any because of the distractions of the evening.

Candace Rating: Worth Going!!

Price: Relatively Expensive

Service: Excellent

Reservations: Yes, better safe than sorry

Location: 2200 Post Oak Blvd., Houston, TX 77056

WebPagehttp://caracol.net/

Experience: I went to Caracol on a Friday for lunch. When I called to see if I needed a reservation for one, the woman told me no, that I was welcome to sit at the bar, and the bar is first come first serve seating. It was raining so I do not know how that affected the business of the place. The restaurant was about 50% full from what I could see. The bartender greeted me right a way and was nice. I told her it was my first time there and she explained the menu to me. They have ‘small plates’ for those who want to try more items from the menu and full-sized entrees as well. I naturally went for the ‘small plates’ for variety.

I was served a complementary mini-appetizer of Shrimp Soup. It was served in a small tin cup for sipping. It tasted good. However it did taste like shrimp, which was a little weird because my brain said it looked delicious and my mouth said it tastes like shrimp! There was not shrimp in it the soup the broth was made from shrimp.

IMG_1686

I asked the bartender what the two most popular and/or her favorite items were….

IMG_1688

I picked the following two ‘small plates’:

IMG_1687

Taquitos Tronadores de Carnitas: crispy rolled pork tacos, avocado-tomatillo salsa, crema fresca, queso fresco

The black beans were fresh and had a bit of a smoky flavor. They were good, but nothing to necessarily write home about. The taquitos were stuffed with a nice mild flavored shredded pork. The avocado-tomatillo salsa made the dish! Very yummy, creamy, with just the right amount of tang. The salsa mixed with the crema fresca and queso fresco was pretty darn delicious.

Tacos de Carnitas de Atun: crispytuna, guacamole, refitos

The tuna tacos looked better than they were. Two of the three pieces of tuna were a little over cooked, not just seared like a sushi-grade tuna is usually served. They looked like they were well seasoned but really did not have much flavor on its own. The corn tortillas were good and they did not fall apart. The beans, guacamole, lettuce, and shaved radish (I think) made for a nice combination, but again did not give flavor to the dish. Now for the best part!!!! The sauce that was served on the side (in the little white cup in the picture) – was soooo gooooood I wanted to drink it from the cup! The sauce made the dish. Once that was on the tacos, it got a little messy, but finger licking good….literally.

Misc: Caracol is a beautiful restaurant. Valet was on top of things and courteous.

Final Thoughts: Overall I had a nice experience and the food was good. I think there is potential so I do want to go back and try other dishes. I will report back with updates when I do.

The Houston Press put out an article – The 25 Best New Restaurants in Houston in 2014

I guess getting married in 2014 put my “new restaurant” searching on the back burner, but I am looking forward to working my way through this list. Restaurants in the Houston area go as quickly as they come, if they are excellent enough to stick around they become staples in the people’s mouths and hearts.

I think that Caracol might be my first stop! It is difficult to successfully do a new twist on Mexican food in Houston, so my curiosity is peaked. I’ll report back.