Posts Tagged ‘Saturday Dining Conspiracy’

Austin Restaurant Notes

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, the redheaded stepchild of the Dwight and Lawrence blogging empire, has shambled back to life this months with two bits of news:

  • Hudson’s on the Bend has closed.
  • A variety of other Austin restaurant openings and closings.
  • You might want to take a look if you like dining in Austin.

    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.

    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.)

    Prima Pizza Pasta Relocating, Mi Pizza Taking the Space

    Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

    A double-dose of restaurant relocation news I don’t think has been reported anywhere else:

    Prima Pizza Pasta has relocated from its location at Parmer and McNeil to a new location at Anderson Mill and 620 as of February 1st. (The news is so new they haven’t updated their website yet.)

    Taking the old Prima space on Parmer (as well as their phone number) is a new restaurant called Mi Pizza, which seems to focus on custom-designed 11 inch pizzas cooked in 5 minutes for $6.99.

    (News in route to The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy.)

    Austin Dining Review: Chagos

    Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

    (Note: This is a restaurant review that will eventually end up on The Logbook of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, but since: A.) We’ve pretty much sucked at keep that up to date, and B.) We both have blogs, and, hey, content!, I thought I’d start putting my reviews up in transit to the main SDC pages.)

    Chagos Caribbean Cuisine
    7301 N Lamar Blvd.
    Austin, Texas 78752
    (512) 275-6013

    Dining Date: March 24, 2012

    This is a nice, cheap, hole-in-the-wall restaurant on a stretch (north Lamar between Airport and 183) that has traditionally been hostile to any restaurant not named “Kim Phung.” Although the plantano and yucca chips didn’t grab me, the chicken appetizer was sort of interesting, the salad wasn’t bad, and my Bistec Encebollado was reasonably tasty.

    My Tres Leches cake was quite deliciously sweet but undersized. Service was attentive and personal, but they weren’t particularly busy.

    If you live nearby, and are in the mood for something both cheap and not bland TexMex, Chagos is worth a try.

    Dear Renaissance Austin Hotel: Please Make Up Your Freaking Mind

    Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

    A while back there was an announcement that “Blue Ribbon Restaurant opened in the Renaissance Austin Hotel, 9721 Arboretum Blvd.” Indeed, the corporate mothership mentioned the Austin version yesterday while crowing that the same menu will be trotted out to different Renaissance hotels around the country.

    Fine. Dandy. Except for the fact that Renaissance Austin Hotel doesn’t seem to have ever heard of it, and it isn’t found on their list of restaurants. Calling the Renaissance and asking for the restaurant gets you Banderas-A Texas Bistrot, which I’ve eaten at before, and which I found most notable for its glacial serving pace. And when I called the Renaissance to ask if they had a Blue Ribbon Restaurant, the girl answering the phone said no.

    Anyway, Blue Ribbon Restaurant sounds like the sort of place I would like to try, especially since Armadillocon will be in the Renaissance again this year. But only if it, you know, actually exists.

    Dear Austin Restaurateurs: What the hell is wrong with you?

    Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

    So Dwight and I were discussing possible venues for the next Saturday Dining Conspiracy. Having been burned in the past by places that closed before we got there, we always try to call ahead to make sure they’re open. Today showed at least one obstacle standing between several Austin Restaurateurs and profit: their inability to competently answer a phone call.

    • First a call to a place called Flamin’ Grill & Kebob House (which I had a coupon for) in Round Rock: “Hello?” answers the voice at the other in a dead monotone. No “Flamin’ Grill and Kebob House, how can I help you?” Not even “Flaimin Grill.” So I ask if this is, in fact, “Flamin’ Grill & Kebob House.” “Yes,” he answered in a voice that clearly implied I was imposing on his time, and that he would prefer to be anywhere else at that moment rather than answering a restaurant’s phone. With that kind of attitude toward the business, we crossed them off the list.
    • Next up: Ilse’s Kitchen, a German Restaurant out in Spicewood. The phone rings ten times (despite it being within the specified business hours), then something like a fax machine pics up, evidently waiting for you to start a fax; no message, no beep, nothing.
    • Third try: Your Mom’s Burger Bar. Calling the number listed on their website (474-MOMS) brings up a message saying that “this NXP semiconductor number is no longer in service.”.

    Look, I know that telephones are musty old 20th century technology, but is it too much to ask that: A.) The phone number on your own website is correct, and that B.) You answer it when it rings in a (at the minimum) polite manner? Is that just too much to ask of you?