Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dinner -- 3/29/08

732 W. 6th St.
Waco, TX 76706


4:35 - 5:15 p.m.

Ramona: Grilled salmon, baked potato, Caesar salad, iced tea

Jim: Tilapia w/ mango salsa, baked potato, Caesar salad, iced tea

Shared: Frizzed onions, Lemonberry cake

We weren't sure what to expect when we decided to try out this new restaurant/lounge that's opened downtown, but after spending 6 hours at the convention center today, we thought we'd give it a try (we also had a 20% off coupon from the paper!). We had noticed Basaberu as it was being built and it looked interesting. What a disappointment! The entrees were okay but not much good can be said about the baked potatoes (it's pretty hard to mess those up, isn't it?) or the Caesar salad (nothing special there either). The frizzed onions looked and tasted like something you could get out of a can -- the kind you sprinkle over the top of your green bean casserole. The cake was okay.

Service was less than ideal. I imagine the place might be popular with the younger crowd who find it a neat place to meet up with their friends and have a few drinks. A sign on the door also said there was free WiFi, which should also add to its appeal. I don't think we'll go back.


Dinner -- 3/28/08

Cotton Patch
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710

6:30 - 7:15 PM

Ramona: Dixie Belle portion of meat loaf, black-eyed peas, 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

Another reliable meal, not so much rushed as usual, but quick service. One minor problem, Ramona ordered black-eyed peas, but she got squash casserole. We brought it to the server's attention, and she quickly brought out the correct side. She also kept our iced tea full.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dinner -- 3/27/08

Lake Brazos Steakhouse
1620 N. Lake Brazos Parkway
(Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd)
Waco, TX 76704

5:45 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Fried catfish, fried squash, cole slaw, hush puppies, iced tea

Jim: Fried catfish, French fries, caesar salad, hush puppies, iced tea

We had a coupon for these two dinners which saved us the cost of the drinks. The hush puppies tasted as if they were made in Pennsylvania and mailed to Texas. The rolls were also a bit hard (maybe they were left over from lunch), but the fried catfish was great. The caesar salad was simply greens with a tasty, faux caesar dressing. But I liked it.


Dinner -- 3/26/08

614 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710

5:50 - 6:55 PM

Ramona: Tomato basil soup, tortilla chicken melt, iced tea

Jim: Tomato basil soup, chicken tenders platter, iced tea

The only problem with these chain restaurants is one common to them all over the country -- they unnecessarily rush the dinner, even when the place is essentially empty. This particular Applebee's was not even half full, and still we felt rushed. Wait staff that hover and return to the table four or five times to see if we need anything are also a minor annoyance. Otherwise, the food was good. The soup was warm, but not scalding hot. I know some will disagree, but we like it that way.


Dinner -- 3/25/08

Happy Wok
1910 Park Lake Dr
Waco, TX 76708

5:00 - 5:40 PM

Ramona: egg roll, Seafood delight (king crab, shrimp, scallops, lobster, chinese vegetables white sauce, steamed rice, iced tea.

Jim: egg roll, mu shu pork, iced tea.

Ramona's fortune: "An unexpected event will soon make your life more exciting."
Jim's fortune: "Tomorrow your creative side will shine forth with exceptional ideas."

Another satisfying dinner before my Tuesday evening class. We switched plates about a quarter of the way through, and still had two large portions left over for lunch. The quantity and quality are really amazing. One minor problem, the pancakes for the mu shu pork were really thin and difficult to keep wrapped while eating. We gave up and enjoyed the pork and veggies anyway.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Dinner -- 3/23/08

Cracker Barrel Store #166
4275 Interstate 35 N
Waco, TX 76705
(254) 799-4729

6:00 - 6:35 p.m.

Ramona: Sugar cured ham, hash brown casserole, fried okra, biscuits, iced tea

Jim: Sugar cured ham, glazed carrots, mashed potatoes, biscuits, iced tea

Shared: Blackberry cobbler with ice cream

We decided Sunday morning that we were in the mood for ham, but it turns out our grocery stores were closed for Easter, so we just went out for it to Cracker Barrel. Everything was wonderful. We didn't even have to wait for a table!


Breakfast -- 3/23/2008

Cafe Cappuccino
4100 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

10:00 - 11:15 AM

Ramona: Breakfast quesadilla (sausage, eggs, hashbrowns, cheese), orange juice, coffee

Jim: 2 eggs, sausage, rye toast, grits, coffee, V8 juice

We both tried something different today. I had the breakfast quesadilla, which was so big I could only eat half of it. Jim's different thing was putting brown sugar in his grits. I thought his practice of putting sugar in grits was bad enough, but brown sugar??? UGH! When will that Yankee ever learn?


Breakfast -- 3/22/08

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

9:00- 10:00 AM

Ramona: Shortcake pancakes (blueberry), 2 scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, coffee, orange juice

Jim: Buttermilk pancakes, sausage patties, coffee, tomato juice

We had lots of errands to run Saturday morning, one of which was dropping off Ramona's car to get a tail light replaced. So we decided to go to IHOP while that was being done. Ramona tried something new, the blueberry shortcake pancakes, and enjoyed them. Jim decided on regular pancakes and sausage and was not disappointed. Everything was fine.


Dinner -- 3/21/08

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

6:30 - 8:20 PM

Ramona: Long Island Iced Tea, Admiral's Broiled Feast (scallops, shrimp scampi, stuffed flounder), baked potato, caesar salad, iced tea

Jim: Admiral's Broiled Feast (scallops, Walt's favorite shrimp, stuffed flounder), baked potato, caesar salad, iced tea

Shared: 1 order snow crab legs

Since we had steak earlier this week, we decided on seafood tonight. The options for good seafood are unfortunately few, but Red Lobster is usually a good bet. We had about a 40-minute wait for a table, which is pretty typical for a weekend night. Food was good though, as it always is.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lunch -- 3/21/08

Jessie's Delights Cafe
100 E. Center St
Lorena, TX 76655

1:00 - 2:15 PM

Ramona: Chicken tarragon sandwich, home made chips, key lime tarts, iced tea

Jim: BLTurkey (Bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato mayonaisse), creme brulee, iced tea

The service is slow -- as it should be for a relaxing lunch. Everything is made to order. I left the bacon off of my sandwich, and it was still great. The decor is Victorian, which suits this cafe perfectly. We have never had anything but an outstanding lunch at Jessie's Delights.

If you haven't visited Lorena, do so next weekend. It is a quiet, sweet little town about 15 miles south of Waco on I-35. A couple of antique shops surround Jessie's, along with The Village Lamplighter, a terrific store for all things to do with lighting. We also noticed a new shop which will open in a couple of weeks. The Texas Cheese Shop will offer fresh made cheese from all around Texas.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dinner -- 3/19/08

Texas Land and Cattle Company #7127
3403 E. Central Texas Expressway
Killeen, TX 76543


6:15 - 7:30 PM

Ramona & Jim: Caesar Salad, Sirloin & lobster dinner, baked potato, iced tea

Our first visit to this steak house in many years. The food was good. The salad was listed as "spicy," and we asked for plain, but it still came out a bit tart. We like our caesar salads to be a smooth, pleasant beginning to a dinner, and this was a bit too much, but it was still good, just more than we like. Not as noisy as Texas Roadhouse, but we still had to endure caterwauling country western singers.

-Jim, 3/19/08

Lunch -- 3/20/08

La Madeleine
3418 N. Lamar
Austin, TX 78705


1:30 -2:30 PM

Ramona: Duet ( half a hot chicken parisien sandwich, cup of tomato basil soup, chips, iced tea

Jim: Bowl of tomato basil soup, hot chicken parisien sandwich, chips, iced tea

One of the restaurants we wish would come to Waco. Lunch here is different. The tomato basil soup is NOT to be missed. This recipe is one of our favorite soups anywhere. We also bought a quart for later dining at home. The bread is delicious, and the chicken fresh, hot, and juicy.

One disappointment: On our previous visits, they had a small bread bar with complimentary slices of fresh bread, butter, and jam. We were told that a "coporate decision" removed this amenity. Boo! I am about to call 1-866-328-3736 and complain!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lunch -- 3/18/08

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


1:00 - 1:50 PM

Ramona: Chicken Oscar (with crab, asparagus, hollandaise sauce), beef roulades, roasted potatoes, carrots, rice, roll, bread pudding, iced tea

Jim: Gumbo soup, chicken Oscar (I gave my asparagus to Ramona), beef roulades, rice, carrots, roasted potatoes, roll, bread pudding, iced tea

Another great lunch while the rain poured and poured outside. This dining area is soon to be demolished and replaced with a more modern facility on another part of the campus. I like this old place, and I will miss it.


Dinner -- 3/17/08

Uncle Dan's Bar B Que
1001 Lake Air Dr.
Waco, TX 76710

6:00 - 7:00 PM

Ramona: Brisket plate with potato salad, barbecue beans, cheesecake, iced tea

Jim: Three-meat plate (Turkey, turkey, brisket) mashed potatoes, barbecue beans, cherry cobbler, iced tea

Uncle Dan's is a Waco institution, and the best barbecue around these parts. I especially like the turkey, that is why it is always two of my three meats. The beans are good, and so is the potato salad. I am not sure why I got mashed instead of potato salad, but they were good, nonetheless. The brisket was tender and juicy.

Of course our absolute favorite barbecue is far away -- in Shelby, NC, near Ramona's childhood home. Bridge's is light years above any we have eaten anywhere. We especially love their hush puppies and sauce. Sticky Fingers in Charleston, SC, is in second place, so I guess that makes Uncle Dan's #3.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Breakfast -- 3/16/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4100 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

9:20 - 10:45 AM

Ramona: Orange juice, scrambled egg, hash browns, sausage patties, buttermilk pancake, coffee

Jim: Tomato juice, eggs Benedict, coffee

What can we say? No better way to kick of Spring break week, than a great breakfast at our favorite breakfast place in Waco.


Dinner -- 3/15/08

Crystal Terrace Restaurant
in The Music Hall at Fair Park
909 1st Ave
Dallas, TX 75210


5:30 - 7:15 PM

Ramona & Jim: Samples from buffet: cheese and crackers, spring greens salad, potato salad, curried chicken salad, roast beef, baked ham, sausage, chicken spinach lasagne, seafood cippolini, sliced, roasted, red potatoes, asparagus, key lime pie, fruit, strawberry shortcake, bread pudding, Sterling Vintner's Cabernet, 2005, coffee.

Again, a pleasant dinner with our favorite opera companions, Ramona's sister and her husband.

One thing, though. Each week, the posted menu lists "roast turkey, and again during this our fourth visit, they had no turkey. What's up with that? This was our last opera for the season, so they better get their act together before the Fall.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dinner -- 3/14/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


5:40- 7:00 PM

Ramona: Chicken fingers and shrimp, cole slaw, loaded baked potato, Marguerita swirl (2)

Jim: Steak and fried shrimp, broccoli cheese casserole, baby carrots, iced tea

Twice in one week! Jim was not disappointed when some friends who were going to dinner with us said they'd never been to Cheddars. We were more than happy to share one of our favorite restaurants with them. We got there early enough that the wait wasn't too bad (about 20 minutes). Ramona couldn't turn down a $2.50 Marguerita while we waited in the bar. Though Cheddars is not one of our favorite places to go for steak, theirs is very good and Jim couldn't resist.


Dinner -- 3/12/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710

6:00 - 7:00 PM

Ramona: Veggie Plate (bowl of potato soup, cole slaw, broccoli cheese casserole, whole kernel corn, baby carrots), croissant, iced tea

Jim: Dijon Chicken, broccoli cheese casserole, baby carrots, iced tea

Cheddars never disappoints us; it's a great place for an inexpensive meal and consistently good. Our blog shows that it's been a month since our last visit. That's unusual, since it's one of our favorite places to go!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dinner -- 3/11/08

Bangkok Royal Restaurant
215 S. University Parks Dr.
Waco, TX 76701

5:00 -6:00 PM

Ramona: Pad Koa Pohd (chicken, baby corn, snow peas, bell peppers, mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, house garlic sauce), jasmine rice, iced tea

Jim: Pad Khing (chicken, ginger, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, black fungus, baby corn, snow peas, cabbage, celery, broccoli, carrots, house garlic sauce), jasmine rice, iced tea

Shared: Bangkok platter (2 fresh spring rolls, 2 golden angel coconut shrimp, 3 toong tong (egg roll stuffed with mixed vegetables), 3 gouza (fried, ground, marinated chicken ).

We have enjoyed lunch for many years at Bangkok Royal near the Baylor campus. The popular spot out-grew that location, and moved to this new site about a month ago. While the old place was pleasant, the new place is specatacular -- new tables and chairs, new china, and many new wall hangings.

The food, however, is the same -- excellent. They also have a new expanded menu with lots of variations on our old favorites. The food is hot and plentiful. The jasmine rice is especially good.
Great place for something truly different for dinner or lunch. Our only complaint is the noise level. The concrete block walls need some acoustic materials to absorb the sound.


Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dinner -- 3/9/08

Stagecoach Inn
401 S. Stagecoach Rd.
Salado, TX 76571


5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Jim: shrimp cocktail, tomato aspic, fried catfish, hushpuppies, twice-baked potato, green beans, corn pudding, rolls, iced tea, lemon chess pie

Ramona: shrimp cocktail, tossed salad, chicken fried steak, hushpuppies, twice-baked potato, green beans, corn pudding, rolls, iced tea, lemon chess pie

The Stagecoach Inn is a historic place to dine on the famous Chisholm Trail. Built in the 1860s, some of the people who have slept and dined there include Sam Houston, General George Custer, Captain Robert E. Lee, and the infamous James brothers. Today, the Stagecoach Inn is a great place to top off a day of shopping in the antique galleries and craft stores in this quaint little town. For us, it is a 50-minute drive and today it fit perfectly into a trip to a book reading and signing event at a book store in Austin.

There is no printed menu at the Stagecoach Inn. The waitresses recite the options of the day, which consist of several entrees at prices ranging from $16.95 (for grilled chicken or country fried steak) to $27.95 (for the 16 oz. ribeye). The price includes everything from the salads, side dishes, and beverages (coffee or tea) to the desserts. We love the hushpuppies that accompany every meal at the Stagecoach Inn. We've been there lots of times and have never been disappointed with the service or the food.


Dinner -- 3/8/08

Logan's Roadhouse #418
2806 West Loop 340
Central Texas Marketplace
Waco, TX 76711

5:45 - 7:00 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, 6 oz. filet, baked sweet potato, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, 16 oz. prime rib, french fries, iced tea

Shared: "Pick-three appetizer" with potato skins, breaded, fried onion chips, Logan's breaded and fried 'shrooms. Three sauces included sour cream, a zesty horseradish, and a spicy house dip for the onions.

This is not our favorite place for a steak, but we have never been disappointed. One advantage of Logan's over Texas Roadhouse is we do not have to dine with screaming, caterwauling country western music. Not that Logan's is quiet, but the sound level is not intrusive. We were told we would have a 30-40 minute wait, but were seated in about 20 minutes.

That said, the steaks tonight were perfect. We have tried to cut down on beef -- no more than once a week, so we are particular about where we break this fast. The salads were also fresh and peppery -- exactly the way we like them. I thought my prime rib was especially juicy and tender. The horseradish sauce did a good job of clearing out my sinuses. Ramona's filet also had an excellent taste. Both were cooked exactly to order.


Dinner -- 3/7/08

Italian Garden
10207 China Spring Road
Waco, TX 76708

6:30 -7:45 PM

Ramona: House salad with ranch dressing, chicken piccata over spaghetti, cannoli with chocolate sauce, iced tea

Jim: House salad with tomato basil dressing, chicken parmigiana over spaghetti, cannoli with chocolate sauce, iced tea

One of our favorite local Italian restauarants was Vito's on Valley Mills. The owner was nearing retirement, so he moved out to China Spring to be closer to home. The homemade pasta and sauce were outstanding. He did not transfer the quiet, pleasant ambience to the new location, but you could still count on Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Unfortunately, this new location never caught on, and he soon closed.

Now the same place has been opened as "The Italian Garden" by several family members from Macedonia. Our server gave us the entire history of the new restauarant. She was friendly, but not overbearing. Nick, the chef and head of the clan, came out to meet us as we dined. [Note to restaurant owners: this is always a nice touch for serious, serial restaurant diners]. He also gave us a sample of a new dessert he was working on. It was a chilled banana wrapped in a crepe with chocolate sauce. We immediately called it a "banana slip," since he had not yet named it. We hope the name sticks.

The food was outstanding. My CP was hot, and thick, and juicy. The spaghetti was also good, with a tasty sauce, although it was not as thick as I prefer. Ramona's CP was also great, with an extra taste along with the citrus. Like all real Italian restaurants, we were given a large spoon for twirling the pasta.

One other note: the bread, which Nick claimed was his own secret recipe, was fabulous. Bread is always key in our book, and this is one of the best around Waco.

I had eaten lunch there earlier in the day with a friend from work. I ordered a "Philly Cheesesteak," but I had to decline the bell peppers. I like bell peppers, but no self-respecting Philadelphian would ever put bell peppers on Philly's signature sandwich. The roll was perfect (again, a dish where the bread is key), and the meat and cheese were exactly like those in South Philly. The size was also correct.

Italian Garden is a place not to be missed. We plan on making it a regular stop on our journey -- we want them around a long, long time.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dinner -- 3/5/08

Chili's Grill & Bar
5804 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

5:15 - 6:40 PM

Ramona: Guiltless salmon, sauteed veggies, iced tea

Jim: Shrimp Alfredo, iced tea

Shared: White chocolate molten cake

We were headed to the polls for caucus on election night, so we needed a quick, filling dinner. Chili's was perfect. Both dishes were excellent, and the dessert was a new one, so we had to try it. The cake was moist and warm, the ice cream was coated with a crunchy, white chocolate shell, and the plate was decorated with raspberry sauce and shaved white chocolate. Super yums!


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Dinner -- 3/2/08

Mama Baris
1201 Hewitt Drive Suite #214
Waco, TX 76712

Jim: Chicken Parmigiana, iced tea

Ramona: Pasta Sampler (lasagna, manicotti, and cannelloni topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese), iced tea

Shared: Baris salad regular (fresh mushrooms, black olives, mozzarella cheese, tomato, mixed lettuce)

We've been to the Baris located on Valley Mills Drive, but this was our first visit to Mama Baris on Hewitt Drive. The menu appeared to have the same dishes and we ordered our "regular" choices. Everything was the same; good quantity and good quality. This is a dependable restaurant where two folks can usually dine for less than $25 (unless you elect to have dessert).


Breakfast -- 3/2/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4100 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

10:45 - 11:45 AM

Ramona: orange juice, bacon, tomato & cheese omelet, pancake, coffee

Jim: V8 juice, "Cassie" (egg whites, ham, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese), english muffin, coffee

I almost always get Eggs Benedict, but I wanted to try something a bit different, so I went with the egg whites omelet, and I sure did miss those yolks! Even salt and pepper didn't help much. I also tasted Ramona's pancake, and it was delicious. No doubt about it, the best pancakes in Waco, as their tee-shirts proclaim. Ramona's omelet was full and fluffy. This is not a knock on CC, but next time, I will go back to EB.


Dinner -- 3/1/08

Crystal Terrace Restaurant
in The Music Hall at Fair Park
909 1st Ave
Dallas, TX 75210

5:30 - 7:15 PM

Ramona & Jim: Samples from buffet: cheese and crackers, spring greens salad, potato salad, curried chicken salad, roast beef, halibut with cajun butter, chicken with artichokes in a puff pastry, egg plant/squash, carrots, key lime pie, fruit, cheese cake, chocolate silk pie, Sterling Vintner's Cabernet, 2005, coffee.

The food was fair, nothing spectacular, but worth the $22 per person charge. The first cup of coffee was not steaming hot, but the second was better. The advantage to The Crystal Terrace is that the doors open at 5:30, and we are yards away from the entrance to the theater for the performance. It seems it is a bit uneven. The roast beef was better this time than our table mates' last visit.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lunch -- 3/1/2008

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

2:15 - 1:15 PM

Ramona: Creamy Tomato soup, sierra turkey (spring greens, focaccio bread), chips, iced tea

Jim: Clam chowder, Chicken Tomesto (spring greens, roasted tomatoes, pesto sauce), iced tea

One of the best places for lunch in Waco. Soup comes with a side, and I always choose a nice hunk of french baguette, then I cheat and save it for dessert -- no butter, all by itself. YUM! Ramona loves the chips (I don't turn those down with my sandwich), which are great.


Dinner -- 2/29/08

Shogun Japanese Steakhouse
1623 N. Valley Mills Dr.
Waco, TX 76710

5:15 - 6:50 PM

Ramona: Chicken mushroom soup, house salad, filet mignon & shrimp, grilled vegetables, fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Chicken mushroom soup, house salad, filet mignon & scall0ps, grilled vegetables, steamed rice, hot green tea

Shared: Sushi, 2 pieces each: white tuna, salmon, red snapper, sea eel

Shogun is as much entertainment as dining, and that is not to mean the food is poor quality -- the show and the food are first rate. The food is tasty, hot and fresh. The sushi is the best in Waco. Sea eel was a new choice for us, and it had a slightly saltier taste than fresh water eel. The filet was tender, juicy, and perfectly cooked. Ramona and I shared the shrimp and scallops so we both had some of each. The chef usually also gives each person two pieces of shrimp for an appetizer.

The jokes and the tricks are always the same, but they never get old. We like sitting at the hibachi with 6 or 7 other people (most often people we do not know), especially if there are some children as there were last night. We always leave Shogun much more than satisfied with our dinner and with smiles on our faces.


Lunch 2/29/08

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

Jim: Blackened chicken, fried catfish, red potatoes, corn, cole slaw, roll, iced tea

Ramona: Blackened chicken, fried catfish, red potatoes, corn, cole slaw, green pea salad, black-eye pea salad, iced tea

Harrington House is not open to the public, but it is a great place for Baylor faculty to have lunch. Each day there is a buffet consisting of two entrees, from two to four vegetables, rolls, salad bar, soup, baked potato bar, and usually a fruit cobbler of some sort. There is also a menu you can order from the buffet doesn't interest you. On the menu are standard fare such as hamburgers, a really nice fruit plate, and more desserts. Meals average around $5 per person. Quite a bargain!