Friday, August 15, 2008

Humble City Cafe - Humble, TX

“Slow food” advocates argue that food should be produced and consumed close to home. It made enough sense to me (certainly the consumption side) to drive a few miles to a quaint little café close to my house. Humble City Café (, located in downtown Humble, resembles hundreds of other neat little small town, county courthouse- adjacent, (sweet) iced tea brewing cafes in towns all across Texas. The food, décor and hospitality certainly equal those kinds of places, despite being only minutes from the fourth largest city in the country.

The location, building and interior décor look like a flashback to an old roadhouse. The room is big but inviting. Tables are good sized (enough for an open newspaper, a plate of CFS and an icy beverage). The presence of Humble Oil signs and the Texas flag remind diners of the storied history of the area. Reminiscent of a Cracker Barrel, there is a little county store that sells trinkets, old-fashioned candy and homemade root beer.

To start the meal, they bring a perfect little cast iron singlet of cornbread – soft, moist and just the right amount of crumble. Accompanying the cornbread were two kinds of butter, a plain butter and a honey-infused butter. I probably should have objectively tried both, but, frankly, the honey butter was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. There was nice texture to the honey butter (ground nuts, perhaps?) and it came frozen, making it the prefect consistency to slice some off and let it melt pleasantly into the warm cornbread.

The CFS: Very good. Very big. The picture in no way does this bad boy justice (I had to step back from my chair to snap this photo). To be fair, I did order the larger of the two size options – still, I had no idea of the Flintstonian slab of meat that would emerge. Still, it was tasty through and through. It was nice and tender with just the right consistency to make each bite substantial.

Breading: Crispy and flaky. It was nice and lumpy, showing somebody took care to shape it by hand and fry it up nice and crispy. A crispy breading like this is important because it has to stand up to the gravy and keep the texture of the meat intact.

Gravy: Smooth and creamy. My waitress asked whether I wanted it or not (does anyone ever say no?) and it came to the table smothering that tender giant of a steak. Hints of pepper but nothing overpowering. Again, I like a little more kick and a little more salt, so I would have liked more of both.

Knife: A standard kitchen knife won’t do here. A serrated steak knife came suggestively tucked under the steak, hinting one could be wise to use it.

Sides: Select two. I chose fried okra (a personal weakness of mine) and the cole slaw. The okra was divinely delicious – so hot and fresh that my progressive popping of 2-3 in my mouth at a time was unwise (but so satisfying). The cole slaw was also excellent. The thing most nice about it was the ratio of cabbage to carrot: the cabbage was sliced into longer strips and the carrot were in small flacks, allowing the cabbage to shine. The creaminess was spot on and the little dish they give you wasn’t enough for me.

Cost: $12.99 (with two sides). $10.99 if you want the smaller size (and plan to eat again anytime in the next week).

The service was excellent. Friendly, fast and perhaps a bit freaked that I was (1) taking pictures of my lunch and (2) in for lunch at 10:50 (hey, I’m a busy and hungry man).

Make a trip to Humble for this. Seriously.

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