Posts Tagged ‘Food’

The Salt Lick Sues The Salt Lick

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Dispatch from the BBQ Wars:

Salt Lick BBQ is picking a legal fight with a Georgia company it claims is infringing on its name and reputation.

In a lawsuit filed in Texas’ Western District U.S. Court, the Driftwood restaurant chain claims that the Salt Lick Sausage Co. of Cordele, Georgia, is violating the Central Texas company’s trademark by offering barbecue products for sale via its website www.saltlicksausage.com, which is similar in nature to www.saltlickbbq.com.

Salt Lick claims the Georgia company is using marks and iconography that are similar to its own, and that Salt Lick Sausage stands to benefit from the international reputation and publicity enjoyed by Salt Lick.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the sausage is far and away the least impressive of the Driftwood Salt Lick’s signature meats.

But here’s a revealing tidbit:

“The Austin-area company generated more than $25 million in revenue and served more than 650,000 customers at its main restaurant in Driftwood.”

Having been there fairly recently, I can believe it…

Restaurant Review: Hill’s Cafe

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Hill’s Cafe
700 S Congress Ave (Austin, 78745)
(512) 851-9300

Eaten at: July 25, 2015

Restroom Rating: 1.5 (Guys, when one soap dispenser is broken, and the other is off the wall and lying on the sinktop, your men’s room needs attention….)

Hill’s is one of those “Austin institutions” that has been around forever. We’ve eaten there before, and always thought they had good hamburgers and chicken fried steak.

Since Armadillocon was over in the Omni Southpark this year, and since Hill’s Cafe is evidently under new management, we decided to give them a revisit. This time around we had…hamburgers and chicken-fried steak. And I thought my chicken-fried steak was very tasty indeed, probably top 5 in Austin tasty, and I heard no complaints from the hamburger contingent. I also thought the onion rings were pretty good. (You’ll have to check with Dwight on the BBQ.)

They were out of banana pudding, and offered us some complimentary banana bread pudding instead. While I appreciate the gesture, the bread pudding just wasn’t very good, so you should probably avoid that.

Our waiter was pretty attentive, and pretty much kept up with our refills and other requests.

Overall the meal was more than satisfactory, offering up well-executed renditions of classic hearty Texas fare in filing portions at a fair price. Which makes me wonder why the place was half-deserted when we ate there.

Hill’s is never going to be a favorite with the “3 small pieces of seared fish artfully arranged with sculpted garnishes on a drizzle glazed plate for $30” crowd. But if you’re looking for good down home Texas food, Hill’s Cafe amply fits the bill.

Our Short Regional Nightmare May Be Approaching An End

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Blue Bell ice cream to begin test production this week.

Hip hip, hooray! If all goes well, they expect to have product back on store shelves by Labor Day. Also, billionaire Sid Bass has made a “significant investment” in Blue Bell, which should help them survive until production is up and running again.

Don’t Order the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

For twenty years worth of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, I’ve had good dishes and bad, but never before until this past Saturday had I just sent a dish back as completely inedible.

The Chong Chin Chicken was described as seasoned with lots of hot peppers and peppercorns. I didn’t really see the peppercorns, but I definitely saw the hot peppers; it looked like they dumped a giant fistful into the dish. Though a chilehead, I’ve never had that many dry hot peppers in any dish before.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

The first few bites of the dish seemed incredibly dry to me, and it tasted like they hadn’t used any sauce whatsoever, which was an odd choice.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

After a few bites, my tongue’s taste receptors just seemed to shut off, ruining the taste of the dumplings Dwight and Andrew had ordered. Shortly thereafter I realized what the big problem was: it was the most salty dish I’d ever tasted in my life.


An image of the chef preparing the dish.

Normally my tolerance for salt in my meal is higher than most, but this was beyond the pale. I had my co-conspirators try it, and they all agreed it was inedible salty, even Andrew, who loves salt more than I do.

A dish too salty for Andrew and too hot for me; it was like some sort of anti-miracle.

So I sent it back and got some orange peel chicken instead, which was far more edible.

I wouldn’t discourage you from going to Asia Cafe, but unless you look like this:


The only diner who might enjoy the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe.

I would strongly urge you not to order the Chong Chin Chicken…

(Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

Blue Bell Recalls ALL Products

Monday, April 20th, 2015

“Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries is pulling all of its products from the shelves after more ice cream samples tested positive for a life-threatening bacterial infection.”

The voluntary decision, announced Monday, is the latest and most sweeping development to plague the Texas business icon since a recall last month, the first in the company’s 108-year history.

It came after an “enhanced sampling program” that found half-gallon containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27 contained the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, company officials said.

Plus this:

“The latest tests mean the company had several positive tests for Listeria in different plants.”

Pretty hard to fathom a wide-spread outbreak in multiple plants. The only explanations I can think of:

  • A hardy new strain of Listeria is running wild in Texas cow herds
  • A mutant Listeria has evolved to survive pasteurization (a pretty scary thought)
  • There’s a problem somewhere in their additive supply chain
  • Sabotage/Eco-terrorism (PETA hates dairies).
  • Anyway, if you have any Blue Bell in your freezer, it’s probably safest to throw it out…

    Blue Bell Ice Cream Recall Notice

    Saturday, April 4th, 2015

    Well, this sucks if you were planning to buy or eat any Blue Bell ice cream today:

    Blue Bell Ice Cream has voluntarily suspended operations at an Oklahoma production facility that officials had previously connected to a foodborne illness linked to the deaths of three people, the company announced Friday.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people throw away any Blue Bell products made at the company’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, even if some has been eaten without becoming sick.

    Products made at the facility will have the letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S,” or “T” following the “code date” printed on the bottom of the package, according to the CDC.

    “We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing everything possible to provide our consumers with safe products and to preserve the trust we have built with them and their families for more than a century,” the company said in a statement.

    Last month, the company and health officials said a 3-ounce cup of ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was traced to a plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The ice cream product — cups of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla — is not sold in retail locations and is shipped in bulk to “institutional accounts” such as hospitals in 23 states that comprise less than 5 percent of the company’s sales.

    Ten products recalled earlier in March were from a production line at a plant in Brenham, Texas, the company’s headquarters.

    The recall, the first in the company’s 108-year history, began when five patients at Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, Kansas, became ill with listeriosis while hospitalized at some point from December 2013 to January 2015. Officials determined at least four drank milkshakes that contained Blue Bell ice cream. Three of the patients later died.

    I hear that HEB has pulled all Blue Bell off their shelves.

    Check those labels…

    Junk Food Review: Salted Caramel Moon Pies

    Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

    This is part of Things I Shouldn’t Be Eating: A Continuing Series.

    I found this at an HEB:

    A Salted Caramel Moon Pie.

    Obviously I had to pick it up.

    How does it taste?

    I wouldn’t waste your money. It tastes like a Banana Moon Pie without the banana, so it still has that faint artificial petrochemical tang, a faint hint of caramel, and a tiny bit of salt.

    That’s not good enough.

    The Banana Moon Pie is a nostalgic taste from childhood I occasionally indulge in. By comparison, the Salted Caramel Moon Pie is just a disappointment.

    When I want a subtle dessert, I’m not reaching for a Moon Pie. I want the the sweet junk food rush of caramel to hit my tongue like jackhammer. The Salted Caramel Moon Pie doesn’t deliver.

    Restaurant Review: September 20, 2014: Pour House Pints and Pies

    Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

    Pour House Pints And Pies
    11835 Jollyville Rd (Austin, 78759)
    (512) 270-4740

    This is essentially a sports bar that serves pizza. The pizza was pretty good (but could have used more cheese to hold our “four meats plus onions” toppings in place), but the fried mozzarella was undersized for the price, and the service was indifferent at best.

    Unless you want to watch sports, there’s no reason to go here instead of Reale’s just up 183.

    Restaurant Review: Maggiano’s Little Italy

    Thursday, August 28th, 2014

    Maggiano’s Little Italy
    10910 Domain Dr #100, Austin, 78759
    (512) 501-7870

    • Pepper Grinder Rating: 0 (They had several impressive pepper grinders in a server cubbyhole, but neglected to offer any to us.)
    • Bathroom Rating: 3
    • WiFi note: There’s free WiFi…if you’re using the conference room and have a password. Otherwise the restaurant seems to be built within a Farady Cage, as my iPhone frequently was unable to connect to AT&T at all.

    Maggiano’s offers up tasty, overpriced Italian food. In that sense it’s much like Brio, with the added hassles of being in the Domain, which makes it hard to get to. We also had to wait for a table, even though I had made reservations (though we did get there a little bit early).

    The first disappointment after being seated was the free bread: uninspired baguette rounds (though at least they were served warm) with unspiced olive oil. Both Reale’s, with their delicious breadsticks, and Brio, with a more interesting bread assortment and spiced olive oil, do a better job in the bread department.

    The crab cakes appetizers were good, but not $15 for two good.

    Service was attentive, with numerous free drink refills without having to ask.

    For my entree, the veal picatta was both nicely done and had pretty generous portions (which is only fair, considering the price). I thought the angel hair aglio olio was underspiced.

    For dessert I had a perfectly caramelized creme brulee with fruit.

    It was a very good meal. It also cost some $50, without any alcoholic beverages. That, dealing with the hassle of The Domain, and dealing with the hassle of the crowds (“Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded”) make it hard to recommend.

    If I’m hungry for great Italian food, Monday through Saturday I’m probably going to go to Reale’s if they’re not too packed. If it’s Sunday (when Reale’s is closed), I’d pick Brio over Maggiano’s.

    [Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.]

    Yelp’s Top 100 Places To Eat Include Six from the Austin Area

    Saturday, March 1st, 2014

    So Yelp has release a Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list. Their ratings, being based on actual diners, are very different than high-end restaurant critics, and include six places around Austin:

  • 8. Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
  • 35. Turf N’ Surf Po Boy, Austin, TX
  • 85. Uchiko, Austin, TX
  • 86. Little Deli & Pizzeria, Austin, TX
  • 91. Taste of Ethiopia, Pflugerville, TX
  • 99. Uchi, Austin, TX
  • Quick thoughts:

  • Yeah, because it just wasn’t hard enough to get Franklin BBQ already.
  • Uchiko and Uchi are run by the same people.
  • I’m really happy to see Taste of Ethiopia on here. It’s a swell joint run by great people.
  • By comparison, only one place made the cut in Houston, and none in Dallas…

    (Cross-posted to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)