Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dinner -- 2/27/08

Magic China
825 Wooded Acres Dr.
Waco, TX 76710

5:50 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, egg roll, chips and duck sauce, Moo Goo Gai Pan (chicken with Chinese vegetables), fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Wonton soup, egg roll, chips and duck sauce, Three Treasures (shrimp, scallops, chinese vegetables), steamed rice, hot tea

One of our regular haunts. Always dependable, never a bad meal.

Ramona's fortune: The special someone loves to see the light in your eyes
Jim: Others enjoy your company


Dinner -- 2/26/08

Beatnix's Coffeehouse
1826 Lake Shore Drive
Waco, TX 76708

4:50 - 5:35 PM

Ramona: Grilled chicken panini foccacio, chips, pickles, diet Coke
Jim: Ham and Swiss baguette, chips, pickles, and a large, skim, Latte

Beatnix's is one of my favorite places in Waco. Penney and Todd, the proprietors, are always friendly and helpful. The food is great. They do have soup, but this was a quick bite before a night class, so I just settled for a sandwich.

The coffee is outstanding. They brew Persnickety Tim's coffee, a local roaster. You can visit their website at: Beatnix's also carries whole beans for sale and will gladly grind a bag for take away. They are also open for breakfast, and offer a variety of pastries and bagels.

Beatnix's is growing into a popular local hangout. Thursday night from 8 to 10 PM is open mic poetry. That is my favorite, and while quite a few Thursdays are booked, I try to get there as often as possible. Other nights they feature live music and comedy. Stop by and pick up a calendar of events. Penney also publishes the up and coming City Review. This paper covers the arts scene in Waco and the surrounding area. The latest issue features one of our reviews.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Dinner -- 2/24/08

Cotton Patch
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710

4:50 - 5:25 PM

Ramona: Half a roasted chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes, iced tea
Jim: Chicken fried chicken, glazed carrots, broccoli rice casserole, iced tea

Shared: Appetizer of fried mushrooms with ranch and honey mustard dipping sauce

We really like these chain restaurants, and Cotton Patch is one of our favorites. I love the CFC -- it is always juicy and large. I always get the same thing. Ramona switches around a lot.

There is, however, one major annoyance. The server brought our appetizer, and we hadn't even finished eating half of it when he brought our dinners. The place was not crowded on a Sunday night, and no one was waiting. Why do all these chains rush dinners so much? I can half understand when they are crowded with a lot of people waiting, but there was no need for it last night. Next time, I am resolved to say something!


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Breakfast -- 2/23/2008

Benedict's Restaurant
4800 Belt Line Road
Dallas, TX 75254

8:00 - 9:00 AM

Ramona: Orange juice, Lobster Benedict, coffee
Jim: Tomato juice, Eggs Benedict, coffee

Benedict's is our favorite breakfast place in Dallas. When Ramona lived and worked in Dallas, we ate Saturday or Sunday breakfast there nearly every week. It is far and away our favorite breakfast place in Dallas, and it is definitely one of the top three for us in the US.

I always get the Eggs Benedict (my favorite breakfast), but Ramona likes to try different dishes. This time she picked Lobster Benedict, which was one of the daily specials. There were huge chunks of lobster under the eggs and sauce, it was all delicious. The coffee is also excellent. If you are anywhere near Belt Line and the Tollway, stop in for a great breakfast. Benedict's also offers great salads and sandwiches for lunch. Get there early to avoid a long wait!


Dinner -- 2/22/2008 -- TCCTA 08

City Cafe
5757 W Lovers Ln Ste 101,
Dallas, TX 75209
(214) 351-2233

6:50 - 9:40 PM

Ramona: Fresh tomato soup, Filet mignon (greenpeppercorn brandy sauce, Brie scalloped potatoes, and a balsamic marinated Portobello mushroom), "Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate" (16 layers of chocolate cake and white chocolate ganache)

Jim: Cream of Mushroom soup, Filet mignon (greenpeppercorn brandy sauce, Brie scalloped potatoes, and a balsamic marinated Portobello mushroom), Warm mixed Berry Crisp with gourmet vanilla bean ice cream and choclate sauce.

We shared a bottle of Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet, 2005 with our host Brian from Cengage.

Dinner, also courtesy of Cengage Learning, was at the prestigious City Cafe in Dallas. We are never surprised at the amazing variety and quality of restauarants in Dallas, and this was no exception. Billed as a four-star restaurant, they deserved every one of those stars.

The service was perfect, the ambience was warm, although the fun conversation we had with several Cengage sales reps and managers, and some colleagues from around Texas, did do away with the quiet.

We will definitely add this place at the top of our "to-be-visted" list in Dallas.


Lunch -- 2/22/2008 -- TCCTA 08

Avanti Restaurant Fountain Place
Downtown at Fountain Place
1445 Ross Avenue #150
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 965-0055

This wonderful buffet was provided courtesy of Cengage Learning when we attended the Texas Community College Teacher's Association annual convention at the Fairmount Hotel in Dallas.

Ramona and I sampled everything from the buffet, and it was all excellent. The dishes included: spring greens salad, sausage with green and red peppers with onions, grilled chicken, and small ribeye steaks, and sauteed squash with onions. We also had ice tea.

For dessert we had tiramisu, which was really outstanding. We are going to put Avanti's (there are three Dallas locations) on our list of places to eat when we are in the "Big D."


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Breakfast -- 2/17/08

IHOP #3001
4109 S. Jack Kultgen Freeway (I-35)
Waco, TX 76711

10:15 - 10:45 AM

Ramona: Senior Sampler (scrambled egg, one bacon strip, one sausage link, one ham strip, one pancake), OJ, coffee

Jim: Senior Rise 'n Shine (two sunny side up eggs, two sausages, toast, grits), V8 juice, coffee

IHOP. 'nuf said. Good food, good service, but a bit understaffed, since they had a lot of empty tables, and a lot of people waiting. Still we only had about a 15 minute wait.


Dinner -- 2/16/08

Red Lobster
5925 W. Waco Dr.
(at Richland Mall)
Waco, TX 76710-6356

5:30 - 6:30 PM

Ramona: Caesar Salad, Lobster & Shrimp on linguini with white wine sauce, strawberry daiquiri

Jim: Caesar Salad, Ultimate Feast (Lobster tail, snow crab, fried shrimp), french fries, iced tea

Shared: New England Sampler (seafood stuffed mushrooms, clam strips, bacon-wrapped scallops) & key-lime pie

Growing up in Philadelphia, I was surrounded by great seafood restaurants: Bookbinder's, Kelly's, Fishers, Gallo's. Summers at the Jersey shore always meant great seafood: Wida's on Long Beach Island, Smithville Inn, and countless others. So Red Lobster was always a last choice -- after all, who would want to eat at a chain when first class seafood eateries were always nearby. Then, when I came to Waco, I found it to be the only seafood restaurant (before I discovered El Siete Mares), and to make matters worse, we had a couple of unacceptable meals there. But, a gift certificate took us back for another try.

It is still a chain, but the food has improved greatly. We have had four or five super meals in a row. As in most chains, the service seems rushed, even when it was not crowded. The place was about 2/3s empty when we got there, but it was full when we left, with a few people waiting.

Both our dinners were first rate, and the New England sampler was hot, although I could swear the menu said something about shrimp. I guess they were in the stuffed mushrooms.

Still, I can't help comparing RL to my old haunts in Philly and New Jersey. Something keeps whispering, "a little too expensive."


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dinner -- 2/15/08

1424 Washington Ave
Waco, TX 76701

5:40 - 7:45 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, 1424 Wellington, grilled onions and peppers, rice pilaf

Jim: Caesar salad, 16 oz. ribeye, Alice's potato medley, sugar snap peas,

Shared dessert: white chocloate bread pudding

Wine: Forchini Beau Sierra Cabernet 2005

Since the closing of The Northwood Inn, this has moved near the top of our dinner restaurant list in Waco. The cutely eclectic decor (usually local artists), soft lighting and gentle background music, makes this a perfect venue for a quiet dinner or a special occasion.

All the ingredients are fresh, and everything is prepared fresh to order. Don't miss the potato medley -- white and sweet potatoes, cubed and sauteed with a hint of onion. The white chocolate bread pudding was incredibly delicious -- it was warm, and not too sweet. Another dessert we like there (not available last night) is the Austin Cream Pie. Think Boston cream pie, then think chocolate -- just chocolate.

My only complaint is, a usual one in Waco, about the wine list. There was only one bottle of French Bordeaux and they were out. The Forchini was more than adequate, however, in fact it was quite good, but like most California wines, they have too much of a fruity, spicy flavor, and not enough of the wine for my taste. Sorry, but I think French wines have a smoother taste, and a fuller, longer lasting after taste.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Dinner -- 2/14/08

Katie's Frozen Custard
682 S. Valley Mills Dr.
Waco, TX 76711

7:45 PM

Ramona: Heath Bar Blizzard

Jim: Oreo Cookie Blizzard

Okay, so we should be on a diet, but it was Valentine's Day, so we splurged for dessert. This is a special treat, and we always look forward to those rare splurges. Definitely worth going out of the way to home.


Dinner -- 2/14/08

Magic China
221 Jack Kultgen Hwy
(I-35 south bound access road)
Waco, TX 76706

6:10 - 7:15 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, egg roll, Shrimp with Chinese vegetables, fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Wonton soup, egg roll, Mini Bird's nest (chicken, shrimp, pork, scallops, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn), fried rice, iced tea

Ramona's fortune: "You have found the love of your life. Hold on."
Jim's fortune: "You wear your heart on your sleeve."

For our Valentine's Dinner we had planned on going to 1424, but they threw us a curve. Ordinarily, they do not take reservations, but last night they did, and we could not be seated until 8:30, so we decided to go to Magic China.

Different, of course, but still an excellent dinner. They have the best wonton soup, egg rolls, and chinese chips. The food is plentiful and hot. Magic China is in an almost dead heat with Cathay House as our favorite sit-down Chinese restaurant.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dinner -- 2/13/08

Carino's Italian Grill
1411 N. Valley Mills Dr
Waco, TX 76710

6:15 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, penne gorgonzola with chicken, tomatoes, olives, iced tea

Jim: Potato garlic soup, Artichokes, olives, Italian tomatoes over angel hair pasta, and grilled chicken, iced tea

Wine: Bell'agio Chianti, 2005

This meal was the start of a big Valentine/Anniversary weekend. Unfortunately, it started off on a sour note. A couple of years ago, we had two or three bad experiences at Carino's in a row, so we stopped going. Then someone gave us a gift certificate, so we tried it a gain. We had a good meal, and one or two after that. But that old monster inconsistency raised its ugly head last night.

We asked for my soup and Ramona's salad together -- they brought the salad, but not the soup. The waiter told us they ran out and were making more. When Ramona was about a third of the way through her salad, they brought the soup, and there was a gigantic, thick, curly hair poking out of the middle. I called the waiter back, and he brought me another bowl. He set it down, and they immediately brought our dinners. The place was by no means crowded; there were a few empty tables and no one was waiting, so this rush job was off-putting, to say the least.

Both our main courses were good. Dare we risk another trip there? I wonder what are the ingredients of angel HAIR pasta.

Tonight is Part Two -- our Valentine Dinner -- so tune in tomorrow for that.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lunch -- 2/13/2008

Harrington House
[Faculty/Staff Dining Hall of Baylor University]
On the Baylor Campus

12:30 - 1:15 PM

Ramona: Turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, grilled squash, small piece of meat loaf, roll, iced tea

Jim: Turkey, mashed potatoes, pickled beets, roll, iced tea

No cranberry sauce! No stuffing! But that is okay. The turkey was tender and juicy and delicious. We never miss an opportunity for a turkey dinner. The service was a little scarce today. Maybe because we got there so late, but we had to hunt up a server for tea (I ended up refilling our glasses from a pitcher on a nearby tray) and our check. Definitely one of our favorite places for lunch, but sorry! Not open to the public.


Dinner -- 2/12/08

Bush's Chicken
3632 N. 19th St
Waco, TX 76708
254.757.0400 [Currently under construction]

4:30 - 5:00 PM

Ramona: Two piece dinner (breast and wing) with mashed potatoes, iced tea
Jim: Four tenders and a breast, fries, gravy, iced tea

Another quick dinner before an evening class. Bush's is great. We love it!


Monday, February 11, 2008

Dinner -- 2/10/08

614 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710

5:30 - 6:35 PM

Ramona: Crispy Orange Chicken bowl, iced tea

Jim: Chicken fried chicken, mashed potatoes, caesar salad, iced tea.

Good safe place for a quick meal on a weekend we didn't feel like cooking. The chicken fried chicken was good, but not as good as what I order at Cotton Patch. Ramona loved her chicken bowl, and she had a good bit left over for lunch on Monday.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Breakfast -- 2/10/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4100 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

10:30 AM - 12:0o PM

Ramona: French toast, medium bacon, orange juice, coffee

Jim: Eggs benedict, V8 juice, coffee

On our 202nd week anniversary, we had to have breakfast at CC. Undoubtedly our favorite haunt on a weekend morning in Waco. Of course, Benedict's in Dallas is also high on the list, as we spent many, many Sunday mornings there after a fabulous weekend of movies, museums, and munching. One weekend soon, we will be back there, so keep an eye out for that review.

The bacon was perfect, the eggs benedict were also top notch. At one time they used ham and bread, and I urged them to switch to Canadian bacon and English muffins, and they have gone to muffins, but it still comes with a piece of ham. Nevertheless, it was great. As we said before, the coffee continues to be perfect for us -- tasty, fresh, and medium strong.

Ramona noticed that they had quite a few extra people working there today, and maybe that was the reason we had only a short wait despite the church crowd. The earlier the better if you do not want to wait to be seated. Even a 30 minute wait (the longest we ever had) is worth it.


Dinner -- 2/9/08

Blackeyed Pea #2002
5601 Greenville Avenue
Dallas TX 75206

5:00 - 5:50 PM

Ramona: Turkey with stuffing, gravy, squash casserole, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, iced tea

Jim: Turkey with stuffing, gravy, broccoli rice casserole, carrots, cranberry sauce, iced tea

Ever since Blackeyed Pea and Marie Callendar's left Central Texas, we can not get a turkey dinner in Waco, except for Cracker Barrel on Thursday's. So, with a trip to the movies Saturday afternoon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), followed by Salome Saturday night at the Dallas Opera in Fair Park, Blackeyed Pea was the first choice for dinner. It is close to Angelika Theaters on Mockingbird and North Central Expreessway (US 75).

Turkey and stuffing is one of our favorite dinners, and Blackeyed Pea's is first rate, and we got extra cranberry sauce the first time we asked. The service is also fast, so we had no problem making it from there to The Music Hall at Fair Park, even though one of us (not the driver) wanted to go on a little site-seeing tour of Greenville Road in Dallas, and we ended up slightly entangled in construction under the highway we needed to get on to get to Fair Park. But the cool head of the driver prevailed, when he stopped listening to the passenger, and found our way in time for a glass of wine and a relaxing 20 minutes in some comforable chairs.


Dinner -- 2/8/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710

5:40- 6:45 PM

Ramona: Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Beer battered shrimp, french fries, broccoli rice casserole, iced tea

Cheddar's -- always reliable, always good, always crowded, but worth the wait of 30 minutes, which actually turned out to be more like 20.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dinner -- 2/5/08

Happy Wok
1910 Park Lake Dr
Waco, TX 76708

5:00 - 5:40 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, egg roll, lemon chicken with steamed rice.

Jim: Wonton soup, egg roll, house special lo mein (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, noodles).

Ramona's fortune: "Focus on the color purple this week to bring you luck."
Jim's fortune: "You will receive unexpected support over the next week. Accept it graciously."

This is a pleasant little place tucked in the corner of a strip mall on Park Lake off of 19th. The food is always good and hot and plentiful. Neither of us could finish the huge plates of food, so we both had a big lunch the next day. We like this place because it is fast, and when I have a night class, we can meet there and have a cozy dinner before I return to school.

Ramona wore purple today.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Lunch -- 2/3/08

Panera Bread #915
2516 West Loop 340
Central Texas Marketplace
Waco, TX 76701

Ramona: Bowl of Tomato soup with asiago cheese bread croutons, half a tuna salad sandwich, Panera Bread chips, iced tea.

Jim: Bowl of Tomato soup with asiago cheese bread croutons, Asiago roast beef sandwich, Panera Bread chips, iced tea.

What else can we say about PB? Our favorite place for lunch, especially when it is followed by a visit to the nearby Books-a-Million. PB had lots of lemons this time.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Birthday Dinner -- 2/2/08

Diamond Back's
217 Mary St.
Waco, TX 76701

6:00 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, 12 oz prime rib with au jus and creamy horseradish sause, mashed potatoes.

Jim: Caesar salad, 16 oz prime rib with au jus and creamy horseradish sause, loaded baked potato.

Shared: Shrimp cocktail, peach sorbet with fresh blackberries and blueberries. Chateau Font Villac (St. Emilion) 2001.

February 2nd was Ramona's birthday, so we wanted to eat at some place special. Our last meal there was quite a while ago, and this visit was all we expected. The meat was tender and juicy and cooked perfectly. The salads were good, and the shrimp cocktail was great. The shrimp were large and firm. The dessert was yummy, and, of course, the wine was exquisite.

Diamond Back's is pricey, but it is quiet, intimate, with lovely music in the background. The waiter put a candle in the dessert, and to our relief, no one stood around the table clapping and singing happy birthday. I think the waiter felt as much relief about that as we did.

My birthday is in June, so stay tuned for something fun then!


Friday, February 1, 2008

Dinner -- 1/31/08

Ferre Restaurant and Bar
215 E. 4th Street
Ft. Worth, TX 76102

6:00 to 7:20 PM

Ramona: Rucola Salad (baby arugula, shaved parmesean cheese, lemon, olive oil,cracked black pepper), Orchiette Verde (roasted chicken, oven roasted tomatoes, artichokes, white wine, parsley), decaf coffee.

Jim: Caesar salad, Romano encrusted chicken with spaghetini, decaf caffe latte.

Shared: Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Cabernet, Sauvignon, 2005
Dessert shared: Chocolate mousse torte with brandied cherries.

We had eaten here once before, but felt neglected and ignored. We thought this was unusual for such a fine restaurant, so we decided to try again.

This time we were seated immediately, given menus, and
a nicely attentive waiter took our drink orders.

The food was excellent, and all our party agreed this visit was light years better than last time. We shared the table with Ramona's sister and her husband on a night we traveled to Bass Music Hall for a concert.

The wine was excellent, and so was the dessert. The four of us have season tickets to "Cliburn at the Bass," and we always go out to dinner together before the concert, so this will be our regular place from now on. Until it moved to another part of Ft. Worth, we regularly ate at Ciao. That was a great place, and we had the same waiter every time. We were sorry to see it leave, but we have found a good replacement.


PS: The concert was also fantastic. Andre Watts played a wonderful selection of Scarlatti, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, and Liszt.