Kay’s Cuisine for the Soul, Brenham, TX – highly recommended!

Posted on May 8th, 2013 in Brenham,Engineerboy,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy
Kay's Cuisine for the Soul

Kay’s Cuisine for the Soul

We moved to Brenham from Houston over six years ago, and while we love it out here, one thing we have missed is a selection of fine dining establishments.  Houston is a cornucopia of restaurants, and after a while you get spoiled having multiple fantastic options for anything that you crave.  Not so in Brenham, where the fine dining pickin’s are slim (to say the least).

Enter Kay’s Cuisine for the Soul.  The location opened about six months ago, and tonight was our first visit there.  We had heard good things, but hadn’t been able to make the stars align on getting there until now, and we’re sorry we waited so long.  The restaurant is in an old Victorian house, with high ceilings, multiple rooms (presumably an artifact of the original home’s layout), and tasteful, subdued decor and ambiance.

The menu is short but sweet, with a fusion of Asian and Latin American themed selections.  We started with the pork dumplings and homemade egg rolls, along with soup for Avelynn.  We then moved on to our entrees – I got the tempura shrimp, which came with a cucumber-potato salad and a side of shredded onions and carrots, also tempura style.  Marie got a spicy rice bowl with fresh and pickled veggies, seared sirloin, covered with a fried egg.

It was all *fantastic*.  We gorged ourselves to the point that we passed on the tempting desserts, which Kay assured us were all made in their kitchen as well.

They’re less than half a mile south of the historic heart of Brenham, on Market Street, an easy jaunt if you’re downtown antiquing, and well worth the minute or two drive.  So, if you’re a Brenham-ite looking for an amazing and unique local dining experience, or a visitor from Houston or Austin looking for something with some panache and eclecticism, make sure to keep Kay’s in mind as an option.

You can find more information at their web site and Facebook page.

 

Disposing of a Window Unit Air Conditioner in Texas – argh!

Posted on July 23rd, 2010 in Brenham,Commentary,Engineerboy by EngineerBoy

Don't lose your cool...

We recently replaced two of our old, crappy window unit air-conditioners with newer models.  The new units were from Home Depot and the installation was do-it-yourself, and when I was done I realized that I had two undisposable hunks of junk to deal with.  You can’t just throw away a system loaded with refrigerant, so I figured all I had to do was figure out how everybody else did it, then do that.

My first strategy was to ask at the local recycling center here in Brenham.  They said I could probably take them to the collection station (dump), so the next time I went to the dump I asked at the office if they would take window unit air-conditioners.  They said they would, as long as all the coolant had been recovered by an authorized contractor, and the units were officially tagged as being empty.

That sounded good, so I started calling the local AC contractors around town, and found that 90% of them responded with “we don’t work on window units”, 5% took a message and called me back looking to schedule a coolant recharge, and 5% had no idea what I was talking about (and/or feigned ignorance because they didn’t want to do it).

At this point I’ll clarify that I clearly expressed that I was willing to pay a fee for this service, I wasn’t looking for it to be done for free, or anything, and still no takers.  I finally started doing some serious web searching and found this site:

http://www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/rebate/recycling_partners.php

Which bills itself as “Official Texas Trade Up Appliance Rebate Program”, and that link goes to their list of recycling partners.  That list looked very promising, especially when I saw that all Best Buy locations were drop-off locations that take room air-conditioners, as shown here:

Problem solved?! Nope...

With a song in my heart and a ‘green’ aura, I figured my problems were solved, so I loaded up the air conditioners (one of which was a 25,000 BTU model weighing 200+ pounds) and prepared to get rid of my albatrosses…albatrossi?…albatri?  Before heading out I figured I’d make a quick call to my local Best Best buy to confirm, and that’s when I got the bad news – they didn’t take air conditioners.  They didn’t really care too much about the fact that they were listed on the Texas site as being an authorized recycling center that took window units, it was no dice.

I figured I’d double-check on the Best Buy website, where I found this:

Confirmation of misinformation, frustration

I figured, oh well, just some miscommunication and/or old information, no worries, and I’ll just work my way down the list of

Asian Cajun Bar and Grill (***½)

Posted on September 4th, 2009 in Brenham,Commentary,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy
Asian Cajun Bar and Grill

Asian Cajun Bar and Grill

18088 State Highway 105
Washington, TX 77880
(936) 878-2224

Between Navasota and Brenham, on Highway 105, on the south side of the highway, nestled in the trees stands a unique dining and drinking experience for the intrepid – the Asian Cajun Bar and Grill.  As you can see to the right, it looks like a typical Texas ice house, but it’s not.

First, a little back-story.  We live in Brenham, and circumstances often dictate that we have to head up to College Station.  Marie made that journey a couple of times in the last few weeks, and took a different (and more efficient) route than we usually took, and upon her return one day she mentioned seeing an establishment out in the middle of nowhere that claimed to serve both Asian and Cajun food.  We made a half-hearted mental dog-ear to remember to try the place out, but we figured that given the combination of factors it was probably a long shot that we’d end up liking it.

Tonight we headed to College Station to see a movie (Extract), and on our way up there we passed the joint again, and agreed that if it was still open on our way back we’d stop and check it out.  It was, and we did, and we’re glad we did.

It turns out that it is exactly what it seems, which is a combination of an ice house (which for non-Texans is a particular type of open-air, laid-back neighborhood bar), a sports bar, a Cajun restaurant, and an Asian restaurant.  The place appears to be run by a Cajun man and an Asian woman.  Our assumption is that they are a couple-type couple, but that’s just an assumption.  The place had a nice feel, and the proprieters were friendly.

I had the fried shrimp and Marie had the fried crawfish, and we also ordered some fried dumplings, and had a couple of Shiner Bocks to round out the meal.  The piece de resistance was that the Dallas Cowboys game was on in the dining room.  The food was excellent, the beer was cold, the service was good, and the Cowboys won (beating the Vikings in preseason!).  All in all, an excellent evening.

We’ve already made plans to go back, and foresee the Asian Cajun Bar and Grill becoming part of our regular dining rotation.

Review of the BT Longhorn Saloon & Steakhouse (***½)

Posted on August 31st, 2009 in Brenham,Engineerboy,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy
BT Longhorn Saloon & Steakhouse in Brenham, Texas

BT Longhorn Saloon & Steakhouse in Brenham, Texas

In Brenham, TX there are only a handful of non-chain, sit-down dinner restaurants, and the BT Longhorn Saloon & Steakhouse is one of our very favorites.  It’s high up in our dining rotation because of its combination of good food, friendly service, and kitschy atmosphere.

The Longhorn is located in historic downtown Brenham, and is just a block off of the main street, meaning that it’s convenient both to us Brenhamites whose day-to-day activities regular take us downtown (court house, banks, shops, etc) and to visitors, who typically tour the Blue Bell Creamery and then head downtown for dining and shopping.

It’s located in one of the historic old buildings (pictured at right), and the interior has soaring high ceilings, the floor is wood planking, the decor is upscale western kitsch, and they have a massive, beautiful wooden bar.

The service is also very friendly, and usually prompt, although they are sometimes slammed at the height of tourist season.  But even with a small wait, the food is worth it.  We’re addicted to their crab cakes, which comes with fresh wild greens and a delicious creamy sauce.  I typically have a steak, and it’s usually very good, and have also delved into other offerings and specials, like fish, pork chops, chicken, burgers, sandwiches, etc, and all have been very, very good.

Also, their offerings run from moderately priced fare like burgers and sandwiches, up to surf and turf with lobster and filet mignon, so you should find something that fits with your particular dining budget.  And although some of the higher-end items are pricey, the overall atmosphere is casual and friendly, but with some style and polish, so whether you’re dining mid-scale or upscale you should expect a very enjoyable experience here.

Christmas Dispirit

Posted on December 14th, 2008 in Brenham,Commentary,Product Reviews by EngineerBoy

Build It By Yourself, We Won't Help

We were doing some Christmas decorating on the outside of the house, and it turned out we needed a couple of things to finish off the process – like one last string of icicle lights, green extension cords, stakes to hold down a big snowman and nutcracker, etc, etc – typical Christmas stuff, in other words.  So we headed out to Lowe Depot, as we like to call it, as our town has a Lowes and a Home Depot across the street from each other, and we typically use them interchangeably and as alternates when we can’t find what we want at one or the other.

Today is Sunday, December 14, 2008 – Christmas is still eleven days away.  We had noticed that both of these stores had started putting out their Christmas merchandise before Halloween, if you can believe that.  Well, today, fully eleven days before Christmas, we were surprised to find – at both stores – that the Christmas merchandise was already being taken down and replaced with regular hardware and gardening stuff.  In both stores the “Christmas Section” was a pathetic little cluster of huddled, leftover crap.

Now, I’m a realist and I understand we were buying this last-minute stuff late in the season, but this wasn’t just slim pickings, this was the store actively taking down the Christmas stuff and getting it out of the way.  When you couple with with the pre-Halloween setup of the Christmas stuff, and we now have a “Christmas Season” that, at least from a retail perspective, runs from before Halloween up until mid-December, then gets shoved out of the way before it can become inconvenient, or something.

It was very dispiriting.  I mean, I know Christmas has a commercial aspect, but this is ridiculous.  Do they really need to be that coldly calculating as to start taking down the Christmas merchandise before Christmas?  I mean, shouldn’t they have healthy sales of the merchandise until at least New Years?  Don’t “The Holidays” equate to Christmas + New Years?  Are they trying to avoid having to sell the stuff at a discount after Christmas?

Sad.

Mo’s BBQ – Excellent!

Posted on August 18th, 2008 in Brenham,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

If you live in, visit, or travel through Brenham, TX, be sure to put Mo’s BBQ on your itinerary.  Mo cooks up some of the tenderest, juiciest, tastiest barbeque I’ve ever had, and, brother, I’ve had a LOT of barbeque.  Click here for a map, phone number, and directions. 

Mo’s is tucked in back from the street in a cedar shingled building with a front porch, between a carniceria and a gas station.  Most days Mo will greet you herself, and she and her friendly, efficient staff are always a pleasure to interact with.  The restaurant is always spotlessly clean, and the food is always, ALWAYS excellent, with generous portions.

And, oh baby, the barbeque is to die for.  Tender, juicy, tasty, hot, fresh…perfect.  It doesn’t even need sauce, but if you choose to use it Mo’s sauce is tangy and sweet, not vinegary and harsh.

Our only complaint is actually a compliment – we wish that Mo’s would stay open later and be open on Sundays, too.  Monday-Thursday she closes at 3pm, Friday-Saturday she closes at 5pm, and she’s not open on Sundays.  Now, I understand completely – she’s a sole proprietess and can’t work 7×365 – but there are times in the evenings or on Sundays when we get a big old craving for her food and we simply have to wait.  Hmph.

So do us a favor and go to Mo’s – if enough of us become regulars maybe she’ll be able to stay open more so we can always get her great BBQ!!

Schon Ruhe Salon and Spa in Brenham

Posted on March 2nd, 2008 in Brenham by mynagirl

Schön Ruhe Salon and Day Spa

Originally written April 7, 2007, updated March 28, 2008

706 SeelhorstBrenham, TX 77833(979) 421-6044 www.schonruhe.com Quick disclaimer: since writing this original review I've become great friends with Lindsay and designed the Schön Ruhe website for her as well.  But my original review stands… this is a GREAT salon, by any city's standards.

Do What You're Born to Do

See, I'm a born programmer. I didn't quite realize it until I was an adult and, armed with a degree in the very touchy-feel field of Sociology, I found out that the best part of my job out in the business world was teaching myself how to program in a then-very-cutting-edge technology called Lotus Notes. After years of being in technology and loving the process of programming I realized that I loved my job and although Sociology was interesting, Programming was my passion.

Um, isn't this article about a salon, or something?

The point is, I was lucky enough to find what I was supposed to do with my life. And that's the joy of going to Schön Ruhe — Lindsay Scheel, the owner, is absolutely, 100% doing what she was born to do. She glows when she greets you, she radiates with joy as she walks through and checks on you at the pedicure station, bringing you a glass of wine (from a local winery, of course). She happily walks on air through the beautiful, welcoming space, checking on folks getting facials and escorting clients to the massage room. She has created a perfect salon — by any city's standard — simply because it is what she was born to do, and this perfect salon just happens to be here in quaint, picturesque, low-key Brenham.

The salon itself is well named. Schön Ruhe means "beautiful rest" in German, and Lindsey has completely created the whole salon around this concept. I've been in swanky salons (Urban Retreat in Houston — both the skin care center and the full salon), bare-bones salons (any number of acrylic nail assembly-line shops in Houston), quirky salons (Bogart's in the Heights) and friendly neighborhood salons (Heights Spa in the Houston Heights), but none of them compare to Schön Ruhe as an experience. It's the perfect mix of luxury, relaxation, unpretentiousness, and exactly-what-you-need.

Massages to Die For

I've become addicted to the massages there.  Both Barbara and Sheila are amazing!!  My last massage by Sheila was completely restorative… I walked in with every joint aching and I left relaxed and filled with well-being.  And no more sore joints.

Before coming here, I'd always liked massages but they were never worth the indulgence of money for me, at least none that I'd had before. But not only are the prices fabulous by Houston standards, it's hands down (pun intended, I guess!) the best massage I've ever gotten. The room is so welcoming, a soft shade of not-quite-Robin's-egg blue with a tree and appliqued blossoms on the wall. The eyelet window coverings let in the

Chappell Hill Cafe – (***)

Posted on January 2nd, 2007 in Brenham,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

8966 Highway 290 E

Chappell Hill, TX 77426

Phone: (979) 836-0850

We recently moved to Brenham, and today (Sunday) we decided to follow one of our old Houston traditions of going out for a big Sunday breakfast. The only problem is we couldn’t find a single restaurant in Brenham that was open for breakfast on Sunday morning! We drove around to several likely candidates, but Mynagirl had already suggested the contigency of heading to the Chappell Hill Diner if we couldn’t find anything open. See, we have learned in our few months here in Brenham that almost nothing local is open on Sundays. Sure, the normal chain restaurants and retail outlets are open, but just about anything owned and run by locals is closed (which is strange for a town that is such a weekend tourist destination, but oh well).

Also, note that we have heard rumors of an IHOP being built in Brenham next door to the new Walgreen’s that’s being built across the street from HEB. We CANNOT wait for both of them!!
Anyway, back to the Chappell Hill Cafe. True to its roots as a highway crossroads establishment, the diner was in fact open, and was busy but not crowded and there were no delays with seating or food. We were extremely surprised and happy to find that there was no smoking allowed, as the place has the rustic feel of a die-hard, countrified, don’t-tell-me-what-to-do, smoker’s last-gasp stronghold. But it wasn’t…yay!

The place was clean but not fancy, the wait staff was pleasant and efficient, and the patrons were a mix of farmers, local townies, transplants (like us), and highway voyagers. We both ordered indulgent breakfasts including eggs, grits, hash browns, bacon, sausage, hotcakes, and french toast (we didn’t each get all of these things, but we purposely ordered more than we could eat in order to sample a broad swath of the bill of fare). The food was served quickly and was hot and fresh (the skillet sausage could have been a titch warmer for my tastes, but I ate it anyway). The only thing I didn’t at least take a sample of was the coffee, and Mynagirl said it was good diner coffee.

Everything was delicious. We both ate more than we intended, but less than we could have given how tasty everything was. Overall this was a great place and we’re defintely going to keep it in our rotation.

Okay, now for our one minor quibble. When we were about 3/4 of the way done with our meals the waitress comes over and cleaned the tables on either side of us by spritzing Fantastic on the table tops!!!!!!! The acrid, chemical stench was overwhelming and we each had to stop eating/drinking and cover our mouths to keep from gagging. She spritzed and spritzed enormous clouds of the stuff out into the air like Tinkerbell spreading magical pixie dust!! It was dis-gus-ting! If we hadn’t already

Must Be Heaven restaurant – excellent food!

Posted on September 5th, 2006 in Brenham,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

We recently moved to Brenham from big, old Houston, and quickly found this place. We’ve gone there for lunch several times in the week or so that we’ve been here, and have found it to always be fresh, friendly, and delicious. One time the line was a bit long for us, but we were time-constrained or we would have stayed and eaten in spite of the wait.

So far I’ve focused on the french dip, and boy do they make it right. Freshly toasted/grilled bread, juicy, tender roast beef, delicious melted cheese…yum! One minor complaint is that they serve only chips, not fries, but that’s just quibbling. We’ve also had pies, soups, salads, and other assorted menu items, and all have been just great. Plus it has a charming ambiance and just a great all-around karma.

We actually hesitated to go there, thinking it might be a tourist-trap type restaurant feeding of the Blue Bell Creamery Tour crowd, but they aren’t. Well, they might certainly be servicing that crowd, but they’re not doing it with sub-standard, over-priced goods – they’re doing it with fresh, delicious, reasonably priced, wonderful offerings. We only wish they were open more often, because we’d go all the time!