Cafe Red Onion – Highly Recommended

Posted on May 3rd, 2003 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

Three Houston locations:

3910 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098
(713) 807-1161

12440 Northwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77092
(713) 957-0957

1111 Eldridge Pkwy # 100, Houston, TX 77077
(281) 293-7500

We eat here a couple of times a month, and are constantly amazed at the combination of great food, good prices, pleasant ambiance, and excellent service. The menu has a Latin (Mexican-Honduran, actually) American theme, but the dishes are all sort of non-traditional and Americanized (in a good way). I am not a fan of food that is fancy and/or complicated solely for the sake of being fancy and/or complicated. The food here is neither overly fancy, complicated, nor trendy, but it *is* interesting, unexpected, and delicious.

For example, both of us have the same favorite dish here, which is Mayan Chicken. The chicken is a boneless breast that is coated in tortilla crumbs then fried, and is served over queso with black beans (I get the rice instead), fried plantains, and mango salsa. At around $10, this is one amazingly delicious bargain.

In fact, you can eat at Red Onion for around the same cost as a generic Chilis/Bennigans/TGIFridays, but you get food that is orders-of-magnitude more interesting, well-prepared, and delicious. The ambiance is nice, friendly, and casual. My one trivial complaint is that when the place is hopping (as it usually is at mealtimes) it can get a little clattery, noise-wise, and the tables are just a touch too close together for my tastes. That’s really just nit-picking, however, as the food, prices, and service *more* than make up for any cosmetic blemishes.

Do yourself a favor and check out Red Onion. Tell them that the guy who always eats three bowls of pineapple salsa sent you.

Bibas (One’s a Meal) – Highly Recommended

Posted on May 2nd, 2003 in Houston,Restaurant Reviews by EngineerBoy

607 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019

Phone: (713) 523-8432

First of all, I do not know the meaning(s) of the name(s) of this restaurant. Second of all, what I do know is that they have really good food at really good prices. The menu is typical Greek diner, and includes everything from gyros to calzones to pizza to hamburgers. My personal favorite meal starts with the tzatziki appetizer (served with delicious crunchy breadsticks for dipping) followed by the cheeseburger and fries.

Most of the times we’ve been there we’ve been waited on by John, the owner/waiter/resident comedian. If he waits your table be ready for repartee, wisecracks, asides, innuendos, and great service. The other waitstaff have all been very friendly and efficient, and the patrons are usually laid-back regulars. There’s ample outdoor seating, and inside are some huge, 6-person booths.

And if that’s not enough, it’s open 24 hours a day. Do yourself a favor and visit this deservedly legendary Houston institution.

The Matrix Reloaded (**)

Posted on May 1st, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

We just got back from seeing The Matrix Reloaded. It was exactly what I expected, which was all the lamest elements of the first one, magnified. To put this review in context, I was singularly unimpressed by the first Matrix movie. The effects were certainly interesting, and some elements of the story were mildly non-stupid. But the movie, as a whole, didn’t do much for me. But you could see the budget on the screen, and there’s a certain amount of entertainment value in that. The same is true with Matrix 2. There’s more (much more, numbingly more) fantasy fighting and other various effects. The cast members seem to understand that they don’t need to “act” in this movie, only pose, posture, and pontificate pretentiously.

The movie takes place in two “places”. The first place is the matrix, which is a computer generated world into which most of humanity is plugged, where they assume the identity of themselves and interact the way we do, in a world that resembles our world. But in reality their physical bodies are kept sedated and are connected to some massive energy production/storage system, and the machines have created the computer world in order to give their minds something to do, so that the bodies stay healthier. The world of the matrix is policed by “agents”, which are programs that work for the machines and ensure that the denizens of the matrix keep doing things the way the machines want them done. I’m sure I’ve got some of that wrong, and I urge all of you who wish to correct my errors in Matrix mythology to feel free to just keep it to yourselves.

The second “place” is the real world (apparently) which is peopled by humans who have been awakened/freed from the matrix. In this installment there are 250,000 free humans, and they live in an undergound city called Zion. The city of Zion looks like it was conceived by a collaboration between the production designers of The Jetsons, The Flintstones, Mad Max, and Survivor: Spelunking. Also, apparently, in this reality there is no such thing as stainless steel, Comet, paint, or needles and thread, as everything is dull, dingy, rusted, and/or artfully frayed.

The plot of the film is…irrelevent, as far as I can tell. Something about robotic octopi digging down to destroy Zion, and Neo (Keanu Reeves) trying to get into a really secure computer room. I know that sounds dismissive, but the plot just isn’t the point of a movie like this. If it were, I probably wouldn’t have these questions:

If machines are smart enough to take over the world, then why aren’t they smart enough to know there are far more efficient ways to store energy than in the horribly inefficient bodies of humans?
How did the guy who is the commander of the human defense forces get to be in charge if he’s such an ineffectual, whiney loser?
Humans can’t find a better way to zip into and out of the matrix than