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.

 

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.

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!!

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!

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro (**½)

Posted on July 1st, 2006 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro

1221 W 11th St

Houston, TX 77008

(713) 426-2750

http://www.dragonbowlbistro.com/

Dragon Bowl Asian Bistro is a new restaurant at the edge of the Heights, at the intersection of N. Shepherd and 11th. We’ve been watching them build out the space for it in the strip center and have been anxiously awaiting the opening of another nearby food choice. It finally opened recently and today we finally made it in to try it out.

All three of us got bowls, and they were pretty good. Mine was shrimp, vermicelli, assorted veggies in a citrus sauce and it was quite tasty. I had steamed dumplings as an appetizer and they were okay. The rest of the group liked their food as well, but there were no raves.

There were two issues that detracted from the dining experience. The first is that we waited over 30 minutes from the time of our order until the food was ready. I can understand that a new kitchen won’t operate at peak efficiency for a while, but that seemed a bit overlong for the simplicity of what we ordered.

The second issue was that the menu had been pared down quite a bit to match what the new kitchen was capable of producing, but even the reduced menu was overstating what they could deliver. I first ordered the tempura shrimp appetizer, and was told they weren’t currently making that. I then ordered the fried dumplings and was told they could do steamed but not fried, which didn’t make any sense to me as the obviously had the dumplings to steam and their open kitchen showed plenty of woks with oil for frying.

There were also a lot of grumbling, unhappy patrons waiting around for their food. The place is pretty small so some of them tried to engage us in the camaraderie of their shared conversation about how slow the place was, but we were giving the kitchen the benefit of the doubt seeing that it was so new, and demurred from joining into the dis-fest.

However, I will say that I agreed with their opinions, even if I felt it impolite to blather them about a small restaurant within earshot of the busy crew working in the open kitchen. Having been peripherally involved in the restaurant business I can say that their kitchen is both overstaffed and overslow, and a single well-trained chef with maybe one assistant could have produced all the food much faster than the 4-5 people they had bouncing around back there like pinballs.

The bottom line was that the food and prices were at just about the right place for us to keep Dragon Bowl on our radar, so we plan to check back after they’ve had time to work out the kinks. But for now we’re not paitent enough to beta-test this new restaurant.

Update 8/22/2006

We went back to DBAB today for lunch, and there was much improved efficiency in the preparation and delivery

Cafe Le Jadeite (****)

Posted on May 9th, 2004 in Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

Cafe Le Jadeite

1952 West Gray

Houston Texas 77019

713 528 4288

After work the other Friday night, Engineerboy and I each craved Chinese food. There are, of course, several Chinese and Vietnamese food destinations within striking distance of our office and home. However, I have many non-food requirements for a chill-out-after-work dinner destination, especially after the end of a grueling work week. I especially like cushy seating (you’ll notice that as a theme in many of my restaurant reviews), and I like a little “see and be seen” atmosphere somewhat on a Friday, especially if I like my outfit :-). So some of the corner Chinese food joints, even if they have good food, just don’t quite cut it for the “indulge yourself” attitude at the end of the work week.

But we didn’t know where to go that fit both our culinary jones and my ambiance requirements. We drove aimlessly through River Oaks and I spotted Cafe Le Jadeite. “Wait! Isn’t that Chinese?” I exclaimed. “Um, I don’t think so,” said Engineerboy. “I think it’s French.” “No, no. Jadeite. That’s Chinese. Plus, look at those horses,” I said, referring to the Asian sculptures outside the glass doors. We decided to give it a try. The management had even helped us out by posting their menu outside the restaurant in glass (which is actually a quite French thing to do) and it was decidedly Chinese in flavor, but not exclusively so.

As soon as we were inside, I knew we’d made the right choice, at least from the non-food aspect of what I was looking for. The interior was unbelievable, truly River Oaks fabulous: custom etched glass panels, more giant horse sculptures, other unreal decor I don’t have a language to properly describe. Absolutely beautiful. The staff was formal but not stuffy, and led us to the perfect booth with wonderfully cushy seats, crisp linens, and hand polished flatware. We ordered a pair of drinks from their custom drink menu; they were shortly delivered by two folks who shook them up and poured them from individual shakers into chilled glasses right there at the table. I knew I was at the right restaurant, alright.

Well, if you’re wondering about the food quality after the promise made by the décor and service, it actually surpassed them. It was amazing. Our meal consisted of:

Appetizer:

Duck crèpes with hoisin sauce and fresh scallion (shared). We snarfed these down. They were so fresh tasting and light. The duck was so tender, Engineerboy said he was wishing he’d ordered the duck as a main course.

Soup course:

Asparagus lobster soup. Engineerboy says he loved it.

Pumpkin seafood soup. Unbelievably light, with just a little cream. So tasty!!

Main course:

Shrimp with garlic and mushrooms. Very tasty and delicate.

Lightly fried shrimp on apple ginger sauce (house specialty). Unreal, so good I could not believe it. The sauce was sweet

Zydeco Diner (****)

Posted on May 1st, 2004 in Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

Zydeco Diner

1119 Pease Street

Houston, Texas 77002

713 759 2001

http://www.zydecodiner.com

I can’t say enough wonderful things about this place. I’d driven by it for years as I worked at various buildings downtown, but it wasn’t until I starting working at my current building about five blocks away that I finally gave this place a try. Its unassuming brick structure belies the wondrous culinary treasures that await within.

Offerings include ettoufée, red beans and rice, smothered pork chops, and (my personal favorite) a heavenly basket of fried shrimp on french fries with the most divine mayonaise tartar sauce ever created. Side dishes are wonderful — fluffy cornbread (you have to pester the guy at the window for some butter, however, I’ve learned), great broccoli with cheese sauce — everything you might love at a traditional cafeteria “meat and three” but with true New Orleans flavor. You can see back into where they freshly hand-prepare each order with the proper type of breading (cornmeal, flour, etc) for the fried items. It definitely shows in how tasty and fresh the food is.

Not to be missed is dessert stacked up at the checkout stand, however. Although there’s a chocolate cake that looks quite tempting, I’ve never tried it because the bread pudding with cream sauce is absolutely irresistable. (I get it every single time I go and I’m not in general a huge dessert eater). It’s one of the most amazing cinnamon-infused tasty treats I’ve ever had, and it’s worth a trip there all by itself.

Also worth the trip is how friendly the place is. The proprietess, Gail, is always so cheery and happy to see you when you’re in there to eat, and she’s done wonders for me when I needed to reserve a big table for an office lunch or baby shower. (Plus, the pay-as-you-get-your-food cafeteria checkout is perfect for an office get-together, so there’s no awkward math when the check gets delivered at the end of the meal). Often during lunchtime there’s a guy playing some live zydeco music, which provides some nice background noise; he’s really quite excellent, actually. An added bonus is that both dining rooms are non-smoking, which I really like, especially since it’s a fairly smallish restaurant.

All in all, it’s one of my favorite spots. The place tends to get packed by 11:30, however, so if you head there, I recommend you go early. And definitely get the bread pudding.

Shade Cafe / Restaurant / Bistro (***½)

Posted on March 2nd, 2004 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by mynagirl

Shade

250 W. 19th Street

Houston, Tx 77008

713 863 7500

You can tell when you enter a new restaurant if it’s helmed by a true restaurateur or a wannabe. This place is the real deal. We went to Shade for brunch this morning, and the entire experience was perfectly crafted, start to finish. It’s definitely going to be on the repeat list.

For starters, the restaurant is located in the old location of the Kaldi Cafe, next door to Edin and October Galleries on 19th in the heart of the heavy foot traffic antique-ing district. The space has been unrecognizeably transformed from Kaldi’s dilapidated corner-of-an-antiques-shop crumbliness to an airy, soft, Asian-inspired eatery that is easily prepared to compete with Houston’s nicest bistros. (Since I believe Shade is owned by the same person who runs the Daily Review on Lamar, this doesn’t surprise me — the Daily Review is one of Houston’s nicest bistros).

Brunch menu includes Gingerbread pancakes, a Fried Green Tomato and Bacon Sandwich, or Grilled Salmon with Basmati rice and a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Dinner menu offers appetizers such as grilled qual with steamed stir fry rice and orange infused hoisin sauce and entrees like Wasabi and Cucumber crusted red snapper in a vegetable stir fry with a ginger and red curry coconut sauce, and grilled marinated medallions of pork served with homemade ciabiatta bread and caprese salad.

Next Page »