Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

A is for Auslander

In Honky Tonk on 06/27/2010 at 12:54 pm

Almost back from our road trip, we stopped in at The Auslander http://www.theauslander.com in Fredericksburg to wet our whistles.

Both a restaurant and a biergarten (BEER GARDEN) with nighttime live music, I’m going to count this as a honky tonk, although being on the main street of a town with a ten month tourist season almost disqualifies it.

We parked in the back and bellied up to bar in the patio area.  Smoking is allowed everywhere outside, so beware if dining or opposed.

The bartender was efficient and attentive.  Beer selection was varied but not vast.  No one will be in danger of too many options but there were several from multiple genres and the staff answered questions and were generous with the samples.  I was not in an adventurous spirit and stuck to my usual.

The stream of patrons was steady and mostly tourist in nature.  I would imagine the evening tends to appeal to locals better but we left before that shift began.  Prices were not cheap but not outrageous, considering the prime location.  I can not attest to the menu but the fare was watered down German.  A nice place to stop once.

Thanks for the pictures A.R.!

Fact that will not once come in handy: The ball at the top of a flag pole is called a truck.


Like eating in a Gym

In Honky Tonk/ Food on 06/27/2010 at 10:44 am

On the last street in Abilene, TX (literally)

the Best Friend and I had lunch at The Gym Diner (325) 677-5255, a combination drive thru convenience store/ sit down diner/ bar with optional limo service.  The hours on the front are apparently something to pay no mind to since we wandered in past one o’clock and ordered food without any issues.

This building is an old gymnasium (note the doomed roof) with coolers and about six tables inside.  The menu was pretty basic (hamburgers, club sandwich, etc.).  We ordered our food at the counter and the same woman who took it, went to the grill and started working on the food.  With an original basketball board

and the women’s bathroom both a former locker room and a lost scene from The Shining,

this place was quite unique.  The owner was chatty and very nice, letting us know they had further plans to highlight the ‘gym’ elements.

Food-wise, delicious hamburgers.  A cheeseburger with a side of waffle (!) fries is nice enough, especially when they make it immediately but this was tasty awesomeness.

Both ladies informed us the hamburgers are hand molded every morning and never frozen.  I very much enjoyed the thickness of the patty which was not paper thin nor grotesquely chunky, as well as the pickles added underneath the meat instead of with the cheese and tomato on top.  Everything was fresh and had the taste of a well-seasoned grill.

Although we did not venture into the bar part (which was on the other side of a half wall behind a closed door), I co-labeled this a honky tonk because

  1. I am sure it is.
  2. Because they had both Schlitz and Pearl Regular.

I have never even seen Pearl Regular.  The owner told us their beer distributor did not carry Pearl Light.  Different worlds, I suppose.

And no, unfortunately, your eyes are not deceiving you.  The picture also includes *sigh* Ed Hardy beer.  I will only comment to say Just when exactly Does an already obnoxious trend get worse?

This place was a nice break from the road and fit in nicely with the small town feel of the day.  And proved to be much better than concession food.

Thanks for the pictures A.R.!

Lonely reptile fact: Female Komodo Dragons can reproduce without a male.

Wax ’til it Hurts

In Honky Tonk on 06/23/2010 at 3:54 pm

If you’ve ever been to a Honky Tonk when someone was standing in the middle of the dance floor sprinkling stuff, you’ve witnessed a wax job.

Dance Floor Wax makes the stomping ground slippery for dancing and preserves the floor finish (if there is one) from rowdy boots.  A little bit goes a VERY LONG WAY so if you see it being dumped out, steer clear of the area so you don’t break a hip.  Crashing down in the middle of a western swing is no way to impress the attracting gender.  My co-worker A.R. always keeps a sharp eye to make sure I don’t put too much down.

People who know good dancing ask for Dance Floor Wax so don’t be shy.  Good honky tonks should have it in ample supply.  Also useful for shuffleboard and comes under several different brands.  Check out Amazon today!

Picante/Caliente trivia: Jalapenos were the first peppers in space.

Sabinal your Grill

In Food on 06/23/2010 at 3:46 pm

After a lovely extended weekend in Concan, my BFF and I went to the Sabinal Grill http://www.sabinalgrill.com/ located Center Street in Sabinal, TX.  No cars were out front so we were relived to discover the Open sign flashing alluringly in the window.  Not a soul was inside except the wait staff, although once our orders were taken, several tables filled up, around 6:45.  The waitress took our drink orders and returned with plastic wine glasses of water and lime.  Typically, I am all for economics but if you’re going to go with the wine glass mentality, I would recommend getting heavy duty plastic.  The bottoms were uneven and slightly precarious.

The menu included the typical small town fare.  We both ordered chicken fried chicken, which came with salad bar, vegetable of the day and a side.  I chose mashed potatoes, AR chose baked potato.  Plates for the salad bar were doled out directly from the freezer and were too cold to hold comfortably.  I ended up holding the plate with my shirt as there was no bar to slide it along.  Salad bar was minimal but looked relatively fresh.  My only complaint is the three dressing options were all creamy: ranch, blue cheese (I think) and thousand island.  Oil and vinegar were available but looked a bit dusty.

The food came out just as we finished salad.  The portions were generous without being obscene and the veggie of the day was grilled zucchini.  The breading on the chicken was lightly flavored and nice but was abandoned halfway though as a health measure.  The chicken itself was tender and juicy, although maybe a tiny bit undercooked.  The potatoes were bland in an expected way and the grilled zucchini was cooked perfectly.

Overall, the meal was as expected, typical of a small town.  Prices are reasonable and the people were friendly.  And I didn’t have to pick up after myself or wash dishes.  Thanks A.R. for the pics!

No rest for the shaky fact: Jenga is a Swahili word, meaning “to build.”

Grill it while its Hot

In Food on 06/16/2010 at 4:36 pm

My place of employment has a very nice cafetorium with a range of tasty foods for both breakfast and lunch.  I usually work through lunch and go down there when I am too lazy to make my lunch at home.  Also, once a week, I have a breakfast taco (bean and cheese with bacon).  This occurs on Tuesday because it’s my most hated day of the week.  Everyone that works there is just lovely and I would definitely eat there every day if I could afford it.

The man behind the grill, Jesse, is quite skilled and has proved quite helpful towards some of my cooking dilemmas (i.e. watermelon radishes).  Today I ate both breakfast and lunch under his direction; I am SO pleased, proper acknowledgments are required.

The most important meal of the day was ginger pancakes with grilled bananas.  Not being a huge fan of raw ginger, I was a tad apprehensive but feeling adventurous mainly because nothing really sounded good.  After a little prodding, Jesse recommended honey and butter as a topper.  The honey was not necessary, as the batter was sweet enough and the warmed ginger was much more akin to gingerbread, but the butter was a perfect melty aspect.  It cut the sweet in strategic places on the bite but melded well.  As typical with pancakes, two was too many but I had been warned beforehand to watch myself before entering a food coma.  The grilled bananas were everything a banana should ever be: slightly melted without mush and sweet like milk.  They had an extra burst of flavor which comes from heating raw fruit and vegetables.

Lunch also began uninspired.  I looped around several times before perusing the grill menu and settled on chicken tenders with sweet potato fries.  The chicken tenders were the usual fare but the sauce coating, a special creation of Jesse, was the real standout.  Asian in ingredients and essence, the flavor was multi dimensional and carried the fried chicken much further than it would have made it alone.  This is what happened with each bite:

1.       Sweet – like quality sweet & sour sauce, savory and enticing

2.       Spice/ heat – warm via spice, without a distinct standout

3.       Enhancing food flavor – sweet and heat faded into the flavor of the meat

4.       Lingering warmth – after swallowing the warmth of the heat remained, like drinking hot chocolate

Normally, I abhor lettuce touching my food normally.  Unless it’s a salad or a lettuce wrap, lettuce adds a funky flavor I do not appreciate, especially when hot.  The piece of lettuce under my chicken tenders, however, added to the flavor of the sauce and was not even a little unpleasant.  Sweet potato fries were tasty, although a little thin.

Great day for the cafeteria.  A very nice send off for my vacation to Concan.  Cheers!

Jif, where have you been my whole life fact: Real diamonds can be made from peanut butter.

Gourmet Burger Grill (GBG)

In Food on 06/06/2010 at 11:42 am

Being recently disappointed by a Sonic burger (for SHAME Sonic!), we went to Gourmet Burger Grill today.http://www.gourmetburgergrill.com

It was completely dead on a Sunday at noon, but to be fair, so was the rest of the strip center which is 90% restaurants.  The atmosphere is a bit conflicted; lame nineties music, pendant lighting and an order counter.  There was a little much going on but this may have only been noticeable due to the lack of crowd.

The lady working the front told us the daily specials are around $7 on the weekday and ‘more expensive’ on the weekends.  I ordered the special of the day which was called the Aussie Burger.  Angus beer patty, Canadian bacon, Gouda cheese, an egg and beets on a white roll.  Since all of those items appeal to me (except the beets), this was a great combo.  She did ask me how I wanted it cooked (rare, of course), and I had a range of sides to choose from (salad).  BF got the mini burger sampler, which consisted of five little burgers of beef, lamb, turkey, crab and chicken.  It comes with one sauce and he chose another for 50 cents: steak sauce and lemon remoulade.  The steak sauce was clearly A-1 which was disappointing.  The lamb was dry but overall tasty for a sampler.

Mine was delicious.  I tried the first bite with the beets, and although they were the best beets I have ever tasted ( less tart vinegar and more smoky), ultimately, they were still beets and I have to remove them.  The remaining stain on the bun left a nice flavor.  The egg was slightly runny and a complimentary taste with the beef, cheese and Canadian bacon.  No one flavor was dominate; the even texture of the bread was a perfect end and beginning to the bites.  Though the burger had many elements to it, the overall taste was a consolidation of rich, smokey heartiness.  Every element had a unique vim that complimented itself and one another.

The “gourmet version of common & cheap food” is a niche market that has a niche following.  The current location may not be where this type of food will flourish but I enjoyed it.  Pricey but a nice occasional treat.  Nice range of non-beef burger options as well as a lettuce/bun replacement.

Speaking of moo fact: Holstein cows (the black and white ones) each have a unique pattern.