Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dinner -- 4/26/08

Summer Palace
1520 N. Valley Mills Dr.
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona from the buffet: Egg drop soup, egg roll, shrimp, chicken, rice, fruit, pastry, iced tea

Jim from the buffet: Won ton soup, egg roll, sushi, chicken, shrimp, fruit, iced tea

Since Taste of China has closed, Summer Palace is once again our favorite Chinese Buffet in Waco. The reason it dropped to number two, may seem odd. They have too much stuf!! We have no will power at buffets, and it seems like we overeat. Of course, most of it is vegetables, so it is not all bad. For sheer variety, this is the best bet in town.

Ramona's fortune: Your efforts are budding -- results will appear soon
Jim's fortune: Keep up the good work. You will be rewarded within the month


Dinner -- 4/25/08

614 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710

5:40 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Riblet dinner, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Chicken fajitas, with rice, guacamole, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, and onions, iced tea

I am not a big fan of Mexican food, but I do like fajita's and Applebee's has always been my favorite. This visit, however, the portions seemed smaller than I remember. Of course, we haven't been there in a while, so I could be mistaken. With all the talk of food prices rising, transportation costs, and even reported shortages of rice, I am a bit suspicious.

Ramona loved her riblets, but there were so-so in my book.


Dinner -- 4/21/08

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


6:00 to 7:25 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, Mushroom Pesto pizza, iced tea
Jim: Mozarella, mushroom pesto, and tomato pizza, iced tea

Another dinner before a concert at Bass Music Hall in Ft. Worth. The pizzas were terrific, and filling. We brought home half a pizza between the two.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Breakfast -- 4/13/08

Jack in the Box #3813
1724 S. Valley Mills Drive
Waco, TX 76711

9:15 -- 10:00 AM

Ramona: Croissant sandwich with egg, cheese, and bacon, hash brown sticks, coffee

Jim: Meaty burritto with egg, cheese, and ham, hash brown sticks, coffee

We try to avoid fast food, but an unusual errand Sunday morning took us to this location. The burritto and sandwich were good, but the hash brown potatoes were the worst sort of cardboard. The coffee was weak, so we were reminded why we avoid fast food.


Lunch -- 4/15/08

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

1:00 - 1:50 PM

Ramona: Pasta de la Mer, rolls, iced tea

Jim: Brisket, sauasage, corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, rolls, apple cobbler, iced tea

Another great lunch at HH. They are building a new faculty dining hall, so we can't wait until it is ready to try it out.


Dinner -- 4/18/08

MCC Conference Center
Sydexo catering
On the MCC Campus
1400 College Dr.
Waco, TX 76708

6:00 -- 8:00 PM

Jim & Ramona: salad, roast beef, cauliflower, wild rice, rolls, angel food cake with lemon (Jim) or mixed berries (Ramona) toppings, iced tea, cofee.

The annual service awards banquet was a lot of fun. The dinner was okay, although the beef was a bit tough. The chef was kind enough to give us a few scraps for our dog. She loved it.


Dinner -- 4/17/08

IHOP #1366
1000 S. 4th St.
Waco, TX 76706

7:00 -7:45 PM

Ramona & Jim: Grilled talapia, mashed potatoes, peas, salad with light ranch, iced tea

One of our occasional breakfast stops was turned into an after movie dinner locale. We watched the preview of PBS's newest documentary "Carrier" at Baylor, courtesy of KWBU-TV & FM 103.3.

The food was excellent, and it did not hurt that we had a buy-one-get-one entree free coupon. The service was great, and the food delicious with nice-sized portions.


Breakfast -- 4/12/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710

7:40 to 8:30 AM

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

Jim: Traditional French toast, sausage patties, V8 juice, latte

We were up early that Saturday, and CC was the first place we thought about before our round of Saturday errands. The French toast is one of our favorites there, and it was perfect.


Dinner -- 4/7/08

D's Mediteranean Grill
1503 Colcord Ave
Waco, TX 76707

6:30 - 7:20 PM

Ramona: Gyro schawarma, rice, stuffed grape leaves, salad, iced tea

Jim: Chicken kabob with onions and peppers, wild rice, cucumber and yoghurt salad, stuffed grape leaves, iced tea

This hidden treasure of Waco deserves much more attention than it already gets. We had eaten there several times for lunch, but this was our first time there for dinner. The food is excellent and more than filling. Ramona brought home enough for lunch the next day. Dee is a pleasant and charming hostess, and she kept opening the door for customers even though they usually close at 7:00 PM.


Lunch -- 4/11/08

Harrington House
Faculty/Staff Dining Hall
at Baylor University

12:15 to 1:10 PM

Special buffet menu from last meal served aboard the Titanic on April 14, 1912.

Oysters, mussels, clams, shrimp
Cream of barley soup
Sirloin of beef, saute of chicken Lyonnaise
chateau potatoes, green peas, carrots, boiled rice, boiled red potatoes
Spring greens salad, asparagus vinaigrette
Chocolate eclairs, italian cream cake, jello
Iced tea and coffee

Wow! This was a great buffeet -- probably the best we ever had at HH. The food was uniformly good, although the beef could have been a tad more tender. I hope this becomes an annual event. It might already be. We do not remember it from last year, but then Ramona was only a few days into her new job then.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sad note

The first five-star restaurant in the United States, Philadelphia's unique and ultimate dining expereince, Le Bec Fin, has turned in its five-star award, and moved to business casual, a single plate and set of silver, no fixed price menu, and who knows what else.

Ramona and I dined there at Christmastime, 2006. The seven course meal, army of waiters, 30 page wine list, elegant silver, crystal, china, and their own bottled water, made for the most wonderful dining experience of our lives. We were looking forward to another visit so we could share with the friends of Jim & Ramona's Restaurant Journey. Alas, no more.

The chef/proprietor, George Perrier was a caring and meticulous host. I remember once when he visited our table and saw a tiny piece of cork in a glass of Montrachet, he took the half-empty bottle and glasses away in a fury and ordered them replaced. Ramona's cassolet with Escargot in champagne and white wine was not exactly lined up, and our table captain, Michael, slid it into position with a slight, tsk-tsk.

This was dining as only the French can manage it. It was as much a performance and a work of art as a fabulous, three-hour meal. Adieu, George, adieu. We will miss you! At least we have the memories, and as we toast with a fine wine, I can tell Ramona, "Here's looking at you, Bayb! We'll always have Le Bec Fin in our dreams.


Dinner -- 4/9/08

4208 Franklin Ave.
Waco, TX 76710


6:40 to 7:15 PM

Ramona: House salad with croissant, chicken pot pie, iced tea

Jim: Beer-battered shrimp with french fries, broccoli cheese casserole, iced tea

After 4 hours pitching for NPR here in Waco, (KWBU 103.3 FM -- -- Pledge Now and support public radio in Central Texas!), we were hungry, and Cheddar's was the logical place. Besides, we had not visited one of our favorite places in almost two weeks! After a short wait, we were seated and quickly received our food. The pot pie was steamy and full of large chunks of chicken. Ramona couldn't finish it, but it did not go to waste! The shrimp were a good size, and the sauce was great.


Dinner -- 4/5/08

Magic China
221 Jack Kultgen Fwy (I-35)
Waco, TX 76710


5:50 - 6:50 PM

Ramona: Happy Family (chicken, beef, shrimp, broccoli, corn, mushrooms, water chestnuts, pea pods) fried rice, iced tea

Jim: Won ton soup, spring roll, Dragon and Phoenix (shrimp, chicken, pea pods, mushrooms, baby corn, broccoli, carrots), hot tea

Shared: Pu pu platter (2 each of egg rolls, wings, chicken on a stick, shrimp, fried wonton)

Another excellent dinner, and we carried enough away for another meal. How do they do it? This also ends our anniversary weekend celebration.

Ramona's fortune: "You deserve to have a good time after a hard day's work" DUH!
Jim's fortune: "Your sly nature will get you out of a tight spot" Double DUH!


Lunch -- 04/05/08

Cafe Cappuccino #2
100 N. 6th St.
Waco, TX 76701

12:15 - 1:15 PM

Ramona: 1/2 chicken salad sandwich, cup of fruit, iced tea

Jim: Pastrami and Swiss with sauerkraut on rye, cup of cream of mushroom soup, chips, iced tea.

This was our first visit to the newly opened branch of our favorite breakfast haunt on Bosque Blvd. This spacious place is elegantly decorated, and the food is the same great quality we have come to expect from CC.

Can dinner be far behind? Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dinner -- 04/04/08

135 Prime
1201 Hewitt Dr
Waco, TX 76712

6:30 - 8:15 PM

Ramona: Lombard Salad (spring greens, apples, pecans, bleu cheese, house dressing), 6 oz. Monroe filet, coffee

Jim: Caesar Romero salad, 16oz. Sir-Loin Oliver (center-cut sirloin), coffee

Shared: Shrimp Cocktail Astaire, Parmesean garlic mashed potatoes, Belgian chocolate cheese cake

Wines: Freixenet C. Negro Brut champagne 2005, J. Lohr Hilltop Vineyards Cabernet (2004)

When one is married to the most wonderful woman in the world, a fourth wedding anniversary deserves an ultra-special celebration. In planning such a dinner, time, place, and price are not a factor. We always celebrated our anniversary at the recently closed Northwood Inn, where we had our wedding dinner for family the night of 04/03/04. There was never a question that 135 Prime would become our new restaurant for this important occasion.

The ambience is quiet and serene, with low lights, Sinatra and friends playing softly in the background, exquisite table settings, and a competent, pleasant wait staff. Our thanks to Alen S. for help making this dinner a memorable experience.

We started with two glasses of the house champagne, and it was excellent. Bubbly always sets the mood for relaxation and prepares the palate for what is ahead. It also complimented the Shrimp Cocktail Astaire with three sauces. The shrimp were large and firm, and as the menu promised, sweet. The salads were crisp, fresh, and tasty. My Caesar Romero Salad was much better than the last two or three we have had at other local restaurants.

The wine was balanced, with a hint of spice, a great aroma, and a more than pleasing aftertaste.

Our steaks were perfectly cooked. We shared a bit of each others, and I have to admit, Ramona's filet was better than my sirloin. Quality or quality and quantity is always a tough decision when it comes to meat. We shared a side of pamesean garlic mashed potatoes. The sides are large and plenty for two people.

The dessert. The generous slice of Belgian chocolate cheese cake had two layers -- dark and milk chocolates, with a flower of shaved dark chocolate on top, drizzled with chocolate sauce. Yes, we do love chocolate.

Even the fresh brewed coffee was excellent, and Alen served us a complimentary half-glass of the champagne with a strawberry for closure.

135 Prime has made us forget Sullivan's in Dallas, now our second favorite steak house. This dinner is light-years ahead of anything else in Waco. We actually spent less than we did at Green Room Grill in January for a dinner that was, at best, mediocre. Not to say you should forget your wallet -- you will be washing dishes a long time if you do!

To enjoy a meal like this, it is better to ignore the numbers beside the dishes. Think only of the pleasure, sharing wonderful tastes with the most important person in the world.

Michaelangelo believed perfection was not possible in his art. On the left buttock of his renowned statue of David in Florence, Italy, a round, marshmallow-sized piece of marble protrudes from the smooth surface of this ultimate and magnificent work. Likewise, perfection, in my opinion, eludes 135 Prime because of the wine list. Not a single bottle of French wine is included. No Montrachet, no Margaux, not even the humble Pouilly-Fuisse. On our first visit, shortly after it opened, the owner visited our table and promised a fuller selection once his wine storage cabinet was completed. Here is hoping for a correction of this extremely minor deficit.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Coming Up!

Our fourth wedding anniversary is Friday, April 4th. Yes, we were married on 04/04/04 at 4:04 PM! Look for a special review this coming weekend.

Jim & Ramona

Dinner -- 3/31/08

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


6:00 to 7:25 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, Nicchi con pollo (chicken and cheese in a thin pasta wrap)

Jim: Caesar salad, Seafood fettuccini (lobster, shrimp, crab, clams, scallops)

Shared: Nugan Estate Riverina (Australia) 2006 Chardonnay

Another excellent dinner, but for the second time, six diners at one table seemed to befuddle the wait staff. When reservations were made, the maitre d' was advised we had tickets for a concert at 7:30. We asked for a reservation at 5:45, but were told 6:00 PM would be adequate. We arrived shortly before 6, but no one came to our table until well after 6. We were not offered (nor could we have accepted) dessert and coffee, because the check was delivered about 7:25.

On the occasions when our party was only four, we did not encounter this situation. This visit, one of our party was wearing blue jeans. Maybe that is the answer.