Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dinner -- 10/14/09

Elite Circle Grille
2132 S. Valley Hills Dr.
Waco, TX 76706


5:00 - 5:50 PM


Ramona: French Dip Sandwich, Fries, iced tea

Jim: French Dip Sandwich, Fries, iced tea

A most excellent sandwich, and the best French Dip I have tasted in Waco. The bread was great, and the sandwich was warm and delicious.

Our server, Spring, also did a great job. She had the right balance of attention and service without hovering -- a problem in so many restaurants in Waco.

Do not miss this historic Waco eatery on any trip through Central Texas.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Dinner -- 09/12/09

Selena's Table
2004 Valley Mills Dr.
Waco, TX 76710


5:00 - 6:15 p.m.


Ramona: House salad with mystic cranberry citrus dressing; grilled marinated tuna Greco; garlic mashed potatoes; iced tea; Chaka Sanna; coffee

Jim: Pork vegetable soup; Perry's grilled balsamic steak; garlic mashed potatoes; iced tea; sfogliatella with fruit sauce; coffee

A new restaurant opening is always something to celebrate, and when a new dining spot opens that beats all expectations, that is really cause for excitement. While we like to visit new places early, there is always a fear things may be a little rough around the edges. Selena's Table came with some pretty lofty praise from some colleagues, so we decided to try it after it was open only five days.

Obviously a lot of planning went into this new place at Ridgewood east on the corner of Valley Mills and Cobbs. The decor is as eclectic as the menu, which features a wide variety of unusual dishes from South America, Mexico, the Mediterranean, and Asia. The menu had such an interesting selection, we had a hard time settling on our dinner, changing our minds a couple of times.

Jim started with the soup, which had a slightly spicy and wonderful taste. Ramona's salad had a colorful presentation with fresh ingredients and an excellent dressing neither of us had ever tasted.

The entrees were of a generous size, perfectly cooked, and served at the right temperature. Jim especially liked the fried spinach, which served as garnish for the steak. Ramona's tuna steak was embellished with Roma tomato slices, capers, Greek olives, capers and feta cheese. Grilled mixed vegetables accompanied each dish and were fresh and crisp.

Lastly, the dessert menu held every bit as much interest as the rest of the menu. Ramona went with one of her favorites -- a flourless chocolate cake, and Jim tried for something completely different, a delicate pastry with fruits sauce and Nutella. Both were outstanding.

The only glitch was the bread, which had no character at all. The owners assured us that the arrival -- soon -- of a new bread and pastry chef would remedy that situation. At least for the near future, BYOB.

Scott, our server, seemed a bit nervous, but for the early days of the restaurant he did a great job.

If you like 1424, you will love Selena's Table. Don't miss out on this great new spot in Waco's ever-improving dining scene. Shame on Waco if it cannot support two first class restaurants, which rival many, many places in Dallas or Austin. We eagerly await our second visit.

-Jim & Ramona.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Breakfast -- 06/16/09

Little Rock, AR

Jim: Vente latte, Sausage, egg, and cheese on ciabatta bread

Ramona: Vente latte, Sausage, egg, and cheese on ciabatta bread

Starbuck's is a must for early morning travelling. Their orange cranberry scones are usually our number one choice, but they've just added hot sandwiches to the menu. We were pleased with the sausage, egg, and cheese on ciabatta bread. Next food stop: HOME!


Dinner -- 06/15/09

Parkside Grill
338 N. Peters Road
Knoxville, TN



Jim: Caesar salad, Parkside fish and chips, French fries, cole slaw, iced tea

Ramona: Kickin' Chicken (chicken breast, lightly breaded and deep fried, topped with creamy cravy), white cheddar mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, cole slaw, iced tea

It's not the restaurant I was looking for but it turned out fine. Jim says his fish and chips were the best he's ever had. They use grouper and serve it with a homemade remoulade sauce. He wasn't too crazy about the sauce, but everything else was excellent. I had a few bites of the Caesar salad and it was terrific. I also had a taste of his cole slaw and asked the waitress to bring me a side order of that. My chicken was kickin' and I loved the white cheddar mashed potatoes. This was a great dinner to see us on for another seventeen hours of driving!


Dinner -- 06/14/09

Dining Car
8826 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19136



Jim: Creamed chicken soup, roast turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, carrots, iced tea

Ramona: Vegetable beef soup, roast turkey, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, candied yams, iced tea

The Dining Car is another of our favorite spots to go in Philadelphia. Jim and I both indulged in their great turkey dinner. Seems like the turkey portion was twice as big as the one we had at Cracker Barrel the week before. Jim's mother was able to repay him for his mushroom taunt that morning. She had lima beans in her vegetable beef soup!

Breakfast -- 06/14/09

Red Robin Diner
6330 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19135


9:00 --9:50 AM


Ramona: Scrapple, scrambled egg, fried potatoes, orange juice, coffee

Jim: Ham, cheese, and mushroom omellette, English muffin, fried potatoes, tomato juice, coffee

Two days in a row having scrapple is not too much for me. It's one of those foods we don't have in Texas, so I take advantage of the opportunity when I can. (We bought two packs to bring home with us in our cooler.) Jim had a tasty omellette, taunting his mother with mushooms, which she can't stand to see.


Breakfast -- 06/13/09

Red Robin Diner
6330 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19135


9:00 --9:50 AM


Ramona: Scrapple, pancakes, orange juice, coffee

Jim: Scrapple, two poached eggs on an English muffin, fried potatoes, tomato juice, coffee

A trip to Philadelphia wouldn't be complete without breakfast with scrapple. The Red Robin Diner is just a block away from Jim's parents' house, so it's our favorite place to go. The service is always great. The cost of the breakfast includes the juice and coffee. Can't beat it!


Dinner -- 06/12/09

Greenman's Deli
2900 Robbins Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149


7:00 p.m.


Jim: Ham & cheese hoagie, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, oregano; Herr's potato chips

Ramona: Turkey & cheese hoagie, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato; Herr's potato chips, diet coke

First stop in Philadelphia was for hoagies from Greenman's Deli. This local eatery is on the way to Jim's parents' house, and that's what we were in the mood for, since we didn't make town in time for a nice dinner out. Nobody makes a better hoagie than Greenman's; there are several locations in the Philly area, but the one on Robbins Ave. is the original. Jim ate his whole sandwich, accompanied by iced tea his mother had made just for him. I saved half of my hoagie for a nice snack the next day.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dinner -- 06/11/09

Boombozz Taphouse
1448 Bardstown Rd.
Louisville, KY 40204



Ramona: Diet Pepsi

Jim: Iced tea

Shared: 12 inch pizza; 1/2 Tuscan Chicken (Garlic cream sauce topped with signature grilled chicken, portobello mushrooms, sweet red onions, roma tomatoes and blended cheese ); 1/2 Quattro (Classic red sauce and mozzarella with Italian sausage, prosciutto, artichokes and portobello mushrooms)

For our last night in Louisville, we thought we'd have a pizza so I did some research on the Internet to find an interesting place. I think we hit the jackpot with Boombozz. It was delicious! The menu had several interesting options and it was hard to decide on just one, so we decided to split and get two of their "famous creations." The 12 inch was perfect for us, but we agreed that we liked the Quattro much better than the Tuscan Chicken. Not sure if it was the garlic cream sauce or the blended cheese, but we had no complaints about the Quattro at all.

Our server Mike was very attentive and make the evening a very pleasant one. Boombozz is sure to be a hit with the younger crowd; there are TVs in every conceivable location. And the array of beers is certainly impressive, for those that care about such things. There are several Boombozz locations in the Louisville area; the one on Bardstown Rd. is the newest to open. I hope we'll get to visit it again next year.


Dinner -- 06/10/09

Cottage Inn
570 Eastern Parkway
Louisville, KY 40217


5:45 - 6:30 p.m.


Jim: fried chicken, mashed potatoes , applesauce, lemon pound cake, iced tea

Ramona: fried beef liver with onions and gravy, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, derby pie, iced tea

Shared: basket of fried okra

As predicted, we returned to Cottage Inn for Wednesday night's "all you can eat" fried chicken, taking two fellow AP readers from Michigan with us. I don't think they were as enthusiastic as we were about the southern cooking, but they enjoyed getting away from the convention center for the evening.

Jim agreed with my assessment of the fried chicken; it was great. I particularly enjoyed the fried okra. We tried different desserts tonight. Jim thought the lemon pound cake was good, but the icing was a little sweet for his taste. The derby pie was a warm pecan pie with chocolate chips and whipped cream. It was very rich!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dinner -- 06/09/09

Cottage Inn
570 Eastern Parkway
Louisville, KY 40217


6:00 - 6:45 p.m.


Jim: Chicken tenders, French fries, corn, lemon meringue pie, iced tea

Ramona: 1/4 fried chicken, mashed potatoes w/gravy, cole slaw, coconut cream pie, iced tea

"Southern comfort food" is this restaurant's motto and they've been dishing it up since 1929 - great food, great service, great value. Everything we had was so good, we're thinking about going back tomorrow night. Wednesday night is all "you can eat" fried chicken (plus two sides) for $9.99. Since I had fried chicken tonight, I think I'll try the beef liver and onions or chicken livers.

Jim and I were both pleased with our dessert choices, but tomorrow night, I want to try a slice of homemade pound cake or carrot cake. And a basket of fried okra, which was under appetizers and I missed that tonight! I overheard someone at a nearby table talking about the okra, but it wasn't listed as a side item.


Dinner -- 06/08/09

Rivue / Galt House
140 N. 4th St.
Louisville, KY 40202


6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Jim: 12 ounce ribeye, salad, potato bread, Grande Marnier creme brulee

Ramona: 12 ounce ribeye, salad, rosemary bread, white chocolate mouse

Shared: Rosemont Shiraz 2008, Australia

Normally Rivue is closed on Monday nights, but it was open tonight especially for the AP readers. Guests at the Galt House received phone messages on Saturday informing us of the special menu that would be available. Jim and I dined at Rivue two years ago, just after the restaurant had opened on the 25th floor of the Galt House's Rivue Tower. We were eager to go there again, so we made a reservation.

Our table was in the section of the restaurant that revolves, offering a panoramic view of the river and the city. We were there for an hour and a half, almost three full revolutions. The meal was superb from beginning to end. The salad consisted of field greens, artichoke hearts, asparagus, croutons, spiced pecans, purple onion, and a lemon honey dill dressing. The breads were hot, delicious, and accompanied by whipped butter. The ribeye steaks sat on rosemary whipped potatoes and were topped by asparagus spears, a white cheddar and pimento sauce, and a port wine sauce.

Jim and I shared our desserts with each other so we each had half of both selections. The creme brulee was an orange liquor infused custard and caramelized sugar crusted fresh berries. The white cholocate mouse was served in a crispy lace shell, topped with fresh berries and a kiwi raspberry sauce. We splurged a little on this dinner, but considered it part of Jim's birthday celebration.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Dinner -- 06/07/09

August Moon Chinese Bistro
2269 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40206


6:30 - 7:30 p.m.


Jim: Won ton soup; shrimp, fresh snow peas and water chestnuts; steamed rice,

Ramona: Egg drop soup; beef, asian vegetables and shiitake mushrooms; fried rice

Shared: goat cheese, crabmeat won ton and asian salsa, Koogamullen Penfolds Syrah (2005) Australia

Jim's birthday, and that means the birthday boy gets to choose the dining spot. He was in the mood for Chinese, and August Moon is reputed to be the best in Louisville.

The title is well-deserved. The crab won tons were delicious, and the food was all hot, tasty, and included generous portions. Jim especially appreciated the won ton soup with lots of pork and noodles added in.

Both dishes featured tasty and plentiful meats. We will definitely add this to our list of must visit spots on our next trip to Louisville.

--Ramona & Jim

Dinner -- 06/06/09

Gasthaus German Restaurant
4812 Brownsboro Center
Louisville, KY 40207


6:00 - 7:10 PM


Ramona: Sauerbraten, pan fried potatoes with onions, Napolean (pastry with strawberries and cream), iced tea

Jim: Wiener Schnitzel, spaetzle, fallen chocolate souffle, iced tea, coffee

Shared: Rotkraut (red cabbage)

Gasthaus is the wonderful German restaurant on the outskirts of Louisville that we discovered last year, and, along with Saffron's, have given a permanent list of places to go when we're in town. The food and service are superb, offering treats not available where we live. The desserts alone are worth the trip. Our only regret is that we can only come here once a year!


Dinner -- 06/05/09

The Fish House/Cafe Beignet
1310 Winter Ave.
Louisville, KY 40204


Jim: Scrod dinner (3 pieces fried scrod, french fries, cole slaw, hush puppies) , iced tea

Ramona: Catfish basket (1 piece fried catfish, french fries, cole slaw, hush puppies) , iced tea

Shared: 1 order (3 pieces) beignets

This delightful find was a result of an Internet search for Louisville restaurants. A short drive from downtown took us to this neighborhood of interesting shops (neat independent bookstore - Carmichael's - nearby!).

One piece of fish was plenty for me. Jim and I were both pleased with the fish, but we thought the cole slaw tasted a little too vinegar-y.

Having beignets was a special treat. We couldn't pass up the opportunity, even though it's a food we traditionally associate with breakfast. Unfortunately Jim's schedule grading exams prevents us from returning to Cafe Beignet for breakfast. The menu did look interesting.


Dinner -- 06/04/09

Saffron's Persian Cuisine
131 W. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202


6:30 - 8:05 PM


Ramona: Steak and chicken kabob on basmati rice, grilled veggies (tomato, onion, mushroom, yellow pepper), chopped tomato and cucumber, vanilla ice cream with attar, pistachio, and saffron, iced tea

Jim: Vegetable soup, rack of lamb on basmati rice, grilled veggies (tomato, onion, mushroom, yellow pepper), chopped tomato and cucumber, vanilla ice cream with attar, pistachio, and saffron, hot jasmine tea

Shared: watercress, mint, and tarragon, and feta cheese on pita bread

Our first dinner in Louisville was at our favorite restaurant, one which we found on our first trip here two years ago. The Persian flavors are exquisite and very satisfying. I only ate half of my kabob dinner so I was able to enjoy it again for lunch another day.

The ice cream might sound strange, but it really was a wonderful combination of flavors.

Saffron's is definitely a "don't miss" spot in any visit to Louisville.


Lunch - 06/04/09

Cracker Barrel #415
1565 Mt. Eden Rd.
Shelbyville, KY 40065-8896


12:45 - 1:30 PM


Ramona: Roast turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, iced tea

Jim: Roast turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes, iced tea

The last leg in our trip to Louisville, KY began on Thursday morning, leaving Knoxville after three nights with my son's family. Cracker Barrel is always a great and dependable place to stop for meals on the road, especially on Thursdays, which is "turkey day" at Cracker Barrels everywhere.

Breakfast is also especially good at CB and is served all hours. It is one of the few places in Texas where you can get country ham; great with grits! I've recently discovered that you can purchase the ham there and take it home to cook at a later date.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dinner -- 06/01/09

Loretta Lynn's Kitchen & Gift Shop
15366 Hwy 13S
Hurricane Mills, TN 37078-2347


7:00 - 7:45 p.m.


Jim: Buffet samplings of fried chicken, fried catfish, barbecue, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, hush puppies, iced tea

Ramona: Buffet samplings of fried chicken, fried catfish, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, cole slaw, hush puppies, iced tea

There are portions of I-40 between Memphis and Nashville where few restaurants can be found. Holding out for an exit with a Shell station, so we could purchase gas at the same stop, resulted in us missing out on the good restaurant options in Jackson. Stopping at Loretta Lynn's seemed like a good idea. Having lived in Tennessee 16 years, I had passed it many times but never stopped.

Country music fans, especially fans of LL will enjoy this place, which combines a museum and gift shop with restaurant. Neither Jim nor I particularly care for CW music, so we were happy to find that the music was not overly loud. The food was okay, but nothing to make us say we'd love to stop there again. The bright spot of the meal for me was the creamed style corn, almost as good as my mother used to make. A display case full of homemade pies looked interesting, but we were too full to try anything after filling up on fried chicken and catfish.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dinner -- 5/9/09

Ruth's Chris Steak House
1700 N. Westshore Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33607


Meal served family style: Cheese assortment, mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat, potatoes au gratin, creamed spinach, chef's selection of miniature desserts

Jim and Ramona: house salad with vinaigrette dressing, filet

The occasion was a surprise birthday party for my son's 40th birthday. Jim and I rode with Kevin and Kathleen to the restaurant, and he suspected that she might have invited a few more local friends to join us, but he was not expecting to see his brother, half-brother, father, mother-in-law, and high school friend from Nashville there.

The party was great fun and the food, as expected, was fabulous. The staff at Ruth's Chris paid attention to every detail and everything was perfect.


Dinner - 5/8/09

Frenchy's Rockaway Grill
7 Rockaway St.
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767



Jim: She Crab soup, Caesar salad, baked stuffed grouper, gin & tonic, iced tea

Ramona: She Crab soup, Caesar salad, Four Kings, frozen margarita

Nothing could be better than watching the sun set over the Gulf, with my son, his wife, and their three little girls. Having a great dinner was the icing on the cake! Frenchy's has several locations in the Clearwater area, but the one we chose is right on the beach and we were able to get outdoor seating with just a little wait.

A cup of their famous She Crab Soup was a great way to begin the meal. Jim ordered the bowl and both of us agreed that it was fabulous. We then each had a Caesar salad, which was also quite good. Jim chose the baked stuffed grouper, which is one of their signature dishes and I had a combination platter called Four Kings. Everything was wonderful and the service was top notch. We can't wait for another trip to Tampa so we can return!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Dinner -- 5/1/09

El Siete Mares
1915 Dutton Ave.
Waco, TX 76706


5:30 - 6:40 PM


Ramona: Tostada de Jaiba (flat, crispy tortilla with crab, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, & lime juice), shrimp acuyo, with peppers, mushrooms, onions, in a white wine sauce, iced tea with lime slices, tres leches cake with chocolate syrup

Jim: Tostada de Ceviche (flat, crispy tortilla with fish, avocado, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, & lime juice), Pescado Empapelado (A fillet of mahi-mahi marinated with their original spices, lime juice, olive oil and sauvignon blanc, with bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. sealed in aluminum foil and steamed and served with rice and vegetables), iced tea with lime slices, tres leches cake with chocolate syrup

El Siete Mares gets better with every visit. The sauce on Jim's dish was so good, he asked for flour tortillas to sop it up. The fish was steamy and tender and perfectly prepared.

Ramona's shrimp was also perfectly prepared with a hint of spicy flavor. The steamed rice in both dishes was also fluffy and sweet. The vegetables were fresh and just a bit crunchy.

We know, from past experiences, the dessert is too good to share, so we splurged with a slice each. As we scraped up the last of the chocolate sauce, we knew we made the right decision here.

We do not get her often enough, but we are going to try and make it a monthly habit.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dinner -- 04/11/09

Heitmiller Steakhouse
203 N. Connally Street
Elm Mott, TX 76640



Ramona: house salad, 6 oz. filet, mashed potatoes, iced tea

Jim: house salad, 16 oz. rib eye, mushrooms, baked potato, iced tea

Shared: lemon meringue pie

This restaurant was one of the first Jim visited when he came to Waco in 1993, and he was not impressed in the slightest. The queue to get in, the menus to be filled out before being seated, the worn, wooden bowls, and the complete lack of atmosphere, thrived only because it was in the days before Texas Roadhouse, Outback, Diamondback's, and Logan's Steakhouse. Jim never wanted to go back. Ramona also ate there with a friend quite a few years ago, and she shared Jim's opinion. However, we decided to give the place a second chance, since we heard the Heitmiller family no longer operated the establishment.

We were both pleasantly surprised. The meat was tasty and tender. The sauteed mushrooms Jim got really did "smother" the rib eye. The salad now came in nice plastic bowls and although the decor has not changed much, they do have a separate smoking room. The price was more than reasonable, and while the steaks come nowhere near Outback or 135 Prime, they could stand toe-to-toe with Cheddar's and Logan's.

The pie was great. A huge head of meringue topped a thick layer of filling with a flaky crust. Heitmillers will now find a place on our regular rotation.


Breakfast -- 4/10/09

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710



Ramona: orange juice, banana-nut french toast, sugar-free syrup, sausage, coffee

Jim: breakfast burrito (egg, potato, cheese, sausage), latte

Since we breakfasted here on a rare weekday, we both picked something completely different.
Neither of us was disappointed. The atmosphere seemed a little different, and the other diners seemed a little different, but the food and the service amounted to what we always expect -- the best breakfast in Waco.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dinner -- 4/4/09

135 Prime
1201 Hewitt Dr
Waco, TX 76712


6:30 - 8:45 PM


Ramona & Jim: Caesar salad, 6 oz. Monroe filet

Shared: (Shrimp) Cocktail Astaire, Audrey's escargot, Lobster risotto, triple chocolate mousse, bailey's cheesecake, Concho y Toro Cabernet (2005).

Well. 5 years. Five wonderful years married, and we could not think of a better place in Waco than 135 Prime, which has now become our official anniversary dining spot. Our server, Emily, did an outstanding job, and made this special evening even more memorable that we thought possible. Best of luck on her upcoming nuptials -- we hope she will be as happy as we are!

The appetizers we shared had the taste for a super intro to the main course. The three sauces with the giant shrimp were all interesting, and we could not decide which we liked the best. The bread was soft, warm, and delicious. The escargot was good, but we have to admit we like the recipe from Le Bec Fin better.

The filets were tender, juicy, and perfectly prepared. The lobster risotto as our side dish was a great compliment, as was the wine. Thanks to 135 for the glass of bubbly in honor of our special day.

The entire meal was exquisite with only one minor flaw -- the Caesar salads were nearly tasteless. Someone forgot the anchovies!

For any special occasion, 135 Prime offers the best experience in and around Waco. Don't let the price deter you! Your partner is worth every penny!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Breakfast -- 4/4/09

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710



Ramona: orange juice, mixed berry and nut pancake, sugar-free syrup, coffee

Jim: Gingerbread waffle with sugar-free syrup, latte

Where else could we have breakfast on our 5th wedding anniversary than Cafe Cappuccino? We had our wedding breakfast there five years ago today. Ironically we ran into Jim's former dean who performed the wedding ceremony, and another friend who helped Jim see how much he loved Ramona and brought him to the realization we were meant for each other.

Oh, yes, the food. Excellent as always.


Dinner -- 04/03/09

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



5:45 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, five-meat Tuscan pasta, iced tea

Jim: Caesar salad, Chicken parmigiana with spaghetti and marinara sauce, iced tea

To kick off our fifth anniversary weekend celebration, we opted for the restaurant where we had one of our very first dates.

The food was excellent -- isn't it always when a man dines with a goddess? Jim commented that the chicken parmigiana was particularly good, with a large piece of chicken and a generous helping of spaghetti.

Ramona tried a delicious new menu item, which was described as bowtie pasta, meat sauce, Italian sausage, bacon, ham, pepperoni, onions and green bell peppers. As usual, she ended up bringing almost half of it home.

We had dessert at home tonight -- Talenti Italian gelato, Argentine dulce tres leche. If you have never tried Talenti gelatos (available at HEB on Wooded acres), they have numerous outstanding varieties. White chocolate raspberry is our favorite, although this first experience with this flavor makes it a close second. Don't let the price deter you! The taste and texture are worth every penny.


Dinner -- 3/28/09

El Chico
2111 S. Valley Mills Drive
Waco, TX 76706


5:00 - 6:00 PM


Ramona: Chicken enchilada dinner, beans, rice, flan, iced tea

Jim: Chicken fajitas, chocolate chimichanga, iced tea

Shared: chips and queso

We have been meaning to try this place since we started the blog, but somehow never got around to it. Jim spent a lot of time there with fellow graduate students from Baylor. One of the students worked there, and we seemed to get extra chips and dip when Fred was on duty.

The food was good and hot, but not quite as good as La Fiesta. The service was also very slow, although the manager did explain that an unexpected large party had taxed their kitchen.

We had a $5.00 off coupon, but even so, the tab was just a shade over the one $ symbol limit.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lunch -- 2/20/09

Cathy's Boardwalk Cafe
Old Town Salado #8
P.O. Box 441
Salado, TX 76571



Ramona & Jim: Turkey sandwich on Sourdough bread with tomato and lettuce, iced tea

On the way back from Austin, we stopped in Salado to visit the store where we bought our wedding rings almost six years ago.

This cute little place had a charming and comfortable atmosphere. The fresh bread held an ample serving of roast turkey. Fresh tomatoes and crispy green lettuce completed the sandwiches.

The service could have been a bit faster, but then we really were in no hurry. A nice, leisurely lunch we recommend to all weary travelers heading up or down I-35. The village of shops also provide a pleasant way to spend a warm spring afternoon.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dinner -- 2/14/09

1424 Washington Ave
Waco, TX 76701


5:20 - 7:15 PM


Valentine's Day. This holiday calls for something extra special, and 1424 fit the bill as always. We tried to eat here last year, but they had a full house. This time, we made our reservations when we visited in November.

Nick had prepared a special prix fixe menu consisting of a fresh greens salad with pesto, leek soup, and an entree consisting of shrimp with etoufee, two broiled lamb shanks, and beef wellington, all over a bed of rice. Vanilla creme brulee finished of a wonderful meal. We shared a bottle of Bomarito Cabernet, 2004, Napa Valley. The wine had an exquisite bouquet, and went perfectly with this absolutely perfect meal.

While the food clearly deserved a rating of outstanding, we do have a couple of suggestions for next year. First of all, Nick, you need to put bread plates for each guest. Second, for special occasions, a prix fixe menu is perfectly appropriate, but a card should be at the table listing the menu and the price. After we settled in and ordered our wine, the waiter informed us of the price. We felt a bit uncomfortable, as if we might want to make sure we could afford the dinner. I know that was not the intention, but it seemed as if a young couple left rather quickly without eating. As regulars at 1424, we know what to expect, so we had no "sticker shock." I think this information could also have been revealed when we heard from them to confirm our reservation about three weeks ago.

None of this will stop us going to 1424 as often as we can. We love the atmosphere, the food, and the wine list -- except it could benefit from some French Bordeaux's. We want 1424 to be as good as it possibly can, especially since we always refer friends there when the occasion calls for a special dining experience.


Lunch -- 2/14/09

1411 N. Valley Mills, Dr.
Waco, TX 76710



Ramona & Jim: 1/3 pound burger, mushrooms, onions, iced tea

Shared: Large basket of fries and onion rings

Because of our special (triple!) weekend, we decided to visit a couple of new places. Surprisingly, we had never visited Fuddrucker's together, and Ramona felt in the mood for a big, juicy hamburger.

These hamburgers rate among the best in Waco, but at $20.00 for two, Fuddrucker's might scare some people away. We won't make frequent trips there, but this weekend had no rules.


Dinner -- 2/13/09

Buzzard Billy's
100 N. I-35
Waco, TX 76704


5:20 to 6:10 PM


Ramona: Top-shelf frozen margarita, corn crab soup, Fried combo (catfish, shrimp, oysters), cole slaw, french fries, hush puppies, iced tea

Jim: corn crab soup, alligator chenier, rice, iced tea

The first meal of our special weekend. My car was in the shop all day, and Ramona had to be at the radio station at 6:30, so I picked her up from work, and we decided to re-visit this Waco landmark. The atmosphere differs from the old place on University Parks Drive and Franklin, but the river view is a special treat.

Ramona got her usual, and it was as good as ever. Jim tasted one of the oysters, and they seemed fresh and unusually large. Since BB's is the only place to get alligator, he always gets one or the other of the dishes. The corn crab soup also lived up to its reputation.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Breakfast -- 2/1/09

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd.
Waco, TX 76710



Ramona: orange juice, mixed nut pancake, sugar-free syrup, bacon, coffee

Jim: V-8 juice, eggs Benedict, latte

Even though we have frequently reviewed Cafe Cappuccino, we felt it deserved a special mention, as the celebration of Ramona's birthday continued this weekend.

The only problem Jim experienced at CC involved the drowning of eggs Benedict in the hollandaise sauce. He began asking for it on the side. As he placed the order this time, the manager told us they had begun the regular practice of placing the sauce on the side. We hope our little blog made some small contribution to this improvement.

Too much sauce drowns the egg yolk.

Bravo, Cafe Cappuccino! And thanks for six years of wonderful breakfasts. We will see you soon again!


Dinner -- 1/31/09

Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House
5330 Beltline Road
Dallas, TX 75254


5:00 - 6:30 PM


Ramona: Stephen's Caesar salad, Kobe (Akaushi) sirloin steak with Bearnaise sauce

Jim: Stephen's Caesar salad, Kobe (Akaushi) sirloin steak with Bearnaise sauce, cappuccino

Shared: Colossal shrimp cocktail, Warm chocolate gateau

Wine: Chateau St. Georges St. Emillon (French) 2004

We had a coupon for a complimentary Kobe steak dinner for Ramona's birthday. We also had tickets for the opera, so we took advantage and had what turned out to be a fabulous dinner reminiscent of our days together when Ramona lived and worked in Dallas.

Our server Taylor did an outstanding job of keeping our water and wine glasses full, our bread plate overflowing with delicious warm, fresh bread right out of the oven.

The shrimp cocktail WAS colossal. Each piece was nearly as long as my hand, and resembled small lobster tails. The sauce -- made at Chamberlain's -- had a tangy touch and complimented the fresh, crisp shrimp.

The Caesar salads came with nine, yes nine, pieces of anchovy on the top. Most places no longer bother with the salty little treat on this staple salad, but Chamberlain's has atoned for the sins of others.

The steak. Neither of us had ever had Kobe steak because of the price. Most restaurants list it at $75 per serving or more. Since we had the coupon for Ramona's birthday, we decided to splurge for this extra special occasion and try this delicacy. In case anyone is unfamiliar with Kobe steak, the animals receive excellent personal care, a diet of rice and milk, and a daily hand massaging but their keepers. A friend who lived in Japan told us the creatures come running for the rubdowns when they see the massagers arrive.

The wine. St. Emillion rates as my very favorite Bordeaux, and this bottle did not disappoint in the least. The bouquet floated delicately from the class, and the aroma also stayed with throughout the meal.

The dessert. Chocolate cake, chocolate sauce, strawberries, and raspberries. Need we say any more?

An an outstanding meal! Jim's birthday fast approaches, and we might try the sister restaurant -- Chamberlain's Fish Market. Not for the faint of heart in the wallet department, but if you crave a first-rate dining experience, Chamberlain's should sit at the top of your list.


Dinner -- 1/30/09

220 s. 3rd
Waco, TX 76701


5:15 PM - 6:20 PM


Ramona & Jim: Chicken fajitas for two, sopapillas, iced tea

We promised to review every new restaurant we did not visited last year, or any restaurant with an unusual new dish or a significant problem. We will also continue our "second chance" visits.

Surprisingly, we have not visited Ninfa's in a long time, even though we both like it. The problem lies in the fact that Jim remains less than big fan of Mexican food, so it never comes to mind.

The food tonight was good, no question, but the restaurant was crowded and exceedingly noisy. The service was good, not too fast, but not too slow either considering how crowded it was. We arrived at the right moment, because large numbers of guests came in right after us, and a large crowded waited for tables when we left.

The fajitas included a generous portion of delicious chicken, peppers, and onions. We both left satisfied. The sopapillas made the drive home with us for a snack later that evening.

Poor Raji! She knows when we come home with a white plastic container it carries some treat she might get, but not that time. The traditional Mexican dessert barely fit in the large container, and a few seconds in the microwave warmed them perfectly. Ninfa's provided us with plenty of honey.

All in all a good night out.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dinner -- 1/24/09

1515 Restaurant
1515 Market Street
Denver, CO 80202


Vendor Treat

6:30 - 9:15 PM

Ramona: Salad Lyonnaise, Buffalo Strip Loin with Farmer’s Cheese Gnocchi, Chantrelles, Brussels Sprouts, Apples, Bordelaise sauce, “Free Form” Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Jim: Salad Lyonnaise, Buffalo Strip Loin with Farmer’s Cheese Gnocchi, Chantrelles, Apples, Bordelaise sauce, Pineapple Upside-Down Corn Cake with Ginger Gastrique, Lime Zest, Brown butter ice cream

Shared: Estancia Cabernet (2205) Paso Robles (California)

This meal was one of the highlights of our trip to Denver this weekend. Our hosts were among our best friends in the library world, and we certainly had a wonderful evening. The food was superb. The buffalo was tender and the sauce was excellent. Jim opted out of the Brussel sprouts, despite urging from one of the guests that it "will be fine." Jim also substiuted the brown butter ice cream for the coconut sorbet on the menu.

Our server, Matt, had a professional and spirited manner, and he took good care of our table, making sure dishes were quickly cleared and courses served a good, slow pace. He certainly helped make this a memorable evening.

The wine was also perfect for the meat and two bottles warmed us for the short ride on the 16th Street pedestrian mall shuttle back to our hotel.

The next time you visit Denver, make sure you visit 1515 Restaurant.


Dinner -- 1/23/09

Denver Pavilions
500 16th Street
16th St. Mall Promenade
Denver, CO, 80202


6:45 - 9:30 PM

Vendor Treat

Family style for a party of ten:

Appetizers: Stuffed Mushrooms, Barb's Spinach & Artichoke al Forno

Entrees: Chicken Parmesan, Gnocchi in Tomato Vodka Sauce, Lobster Ravioli, Mom's Lasagna

Desserts: Tiramisu, Homemade Profiteroles with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge sauce, and whipped cream

Ramona & Jim: Caesar salad & House Cabernet

This excellent meal was only exceeded by the delightful company from all over the US, who gathered in Denver for the 2009 Midwinter Convention. We were the thrilled guests of good friends, and we had a wonderful time. The food was perfect and plentiful. The wine was smooth and excellent for a house cabernet. We left with a warm glow that repelled the bitter cold of a Colorado winter evening.

-Jim and Ramona

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dinner -- 1/17/09

El Siete Mares
1915 Dutton Ave.
Waco, TX 76706


5:00 - 6:20 PM


Ramona & Jim: Pescado Empapelado (A fillet of fish marinated with their original spices, lime juice, olive oil and sauvignon blanc, with bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Wrapped and steamed and served with rice and vegetables), iced tea with lime slices

Jim: Tostada de Jaiba (flat, crispy tortilla with crab, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, & lime juice)

Shared: tres leches cake

Despite our pledge to write only about new restaurants we visit, we decided to write this one up because we both tried a dish we hadn't had there before and it was so delicious we couldn't resist adding it to our blog. Last year, on a visit to friends in Corpus Christi, Jim had this dish and thoroughly enjoyed it.

We were able to choose the fish from the list of "fish-of-the-day," and we chose mahi-mahi. The sweet meat of this species was perfect for the light, white wine sauce and and the fresh, hot steamed veggies, including broccoli, squash, red, orange, and green bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms.

Does this sound perfect? It was! We are on a "lowered fat diet" right now -- we try to keep our fat grams below 20 a day, and we had done so well on Saturday, we thought we could splurge on a shared piece of El Siete's wonderful tres leches cake. We were under 20 grams of fat -- with a few to spare. This is the way to diet! Saving up and ending a wonderful meal with a delicious dessert.

It seems that El Siete Mares gets better every time we visit. One of our new year's resolutions is to visit more often.

-Jim and Ramona

Friday, January 9, 2009

Lunch -- 1/7/09

Teriyaki Park
220 S. 2nd Street
Waco, TX 76701



Ramona & Jim shared: Spring rolls, Miso soup, California rolls, eel rolls, hot green tea

We have seen this place quite a few times, but never seemed to make it here for dinner. An impromptu lunch was the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The kitchen spills over into the dining area, but the food is good. The eel rolls especially were fresh and the rice was soft. The California rolls had just a hint of spice. The Miso soup was also tasty with seaweed and cubes of tofu floating in it.

This will give some competition to Bangkok Royale (a few doors away), but not too much. It is one of the few Waco restaurants serving sushi. Others include Shogun, China Palace, and Best Asian Buffet. If any of our readers know of others, let us know. We love sushi and frequently purchase it at HEB for a nice light lunch.

-Jim and Ramona

Lunch -- 1/6/09

(at Sironia)
1509 Austin Ave.
Waco, TX 76701


12:30 - 1:30 PM


Ramona: Amelia's Trio (tuna salad, fruit, pasta)

Jim: Turkey sandwich with tomato, lettuce, mustard on white toast, fruit, hot tea (spiced chai).

We have eaten here several times for lunch, but never together. At one time, Amelia's was open for dinner, but that ended a few months ago. Both of us have had a fine lunch with colleagues from work.

The food is really good, and we were tempted with the butter milk pie, but we stuck to our New Year's resolution to try and stick to a low fat diet as long as we can.

Jim suggested Amelia's as a site for an upcoming meeting later this month.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

To all our faithful readers.

Thank you all for the many comments and suggestions we have received over the first year of our journey.

As we begin this new year, we have been thinking of ways to improve our blog, while keeping it interesting to the general public.

Ramona and I have come to the conclusion that we have pretty well covered all the restaurants in Waco, so we will discontinue reviewing every restaurant where we dine.

However, we will continue to review new places as they appear, mourn old favorites as they fade away, and we will continue our "second chance" reviews. Look for Green Room Grill soon.

Of course, when we travel, we will always write up new places.

In addition to dining out, we also enjoy cooking at home, so we will be sharing some interesting meals we have prepared here. We have an interesting collection of cookbooks, so we occasionally make some exotic meals for family and friends.

Thanks for reading, and please let us know how you feel about our new plan.

-Jim & Ramona

PS: We have also established a shortened URL to access the site:

Dinner -- 12/29/08

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


6:30 - 8:00 PM

$$ (just a tad over $25.00)

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

Jim: Two-meat plate (turkey, turkey) mashed potatoes, barbecue beans, deviled egg, cheesecake, iced tea

We had a committee meeting at 6:30, so we decided to eat our dinner there. The barbecue is excellent, and so are all the sides. This really is the best barbecue restaurant in Waco, hands down.


Dinner -- 12/27/08

1925 Speight Ave.
Waco, TX 76706


5:30 6:40 PM


Ramona: Frozen strawberry margarita (no salt), Caesar salad, 1/2 order chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes

Jim: Caesar salad, chicken-fried chicken, fries, iced tea

George's was a frequent hangout during my grad school days at Baylor. It was close to Campus, inexpensive, and had great food. The only drawback was the smoke. When the ordinance was passed in Waco, the smokers were driven into the enclosed bar area, and things got much better.

My favorite dish was calf's liver and onions, and we headed there with that dish in mind. When it came time to order, Ramona reminded me that we had recently had L&O at home. She really likes the way I cook it, so we have the dish at least once a month. So, I abandoned my plan and went with an old favorite.

At first, a server (not the same one that took our order) brought me chicken-fried steak. They did switch it out. The portion was good-sized, but not as juicy as what I had at Cotton Patch. I also did not like the white gravy. It tasted funny to me, although Ramona liked hers.

Ramona's CFS was HUGE -- even though she got a 1/2 portion. I tasted it, and it was pretty good.