Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Jax Grill - Houston, TX

Located just south of I-10 on Sheperd is Jax Grill, mixed among several other well-known Houston culinary hot spots (Mission Burrito and Cadillac Bar). After a morning of exploring the city, Mrs. CFS, Tater Tot and myself popped in for a little homestyle goodness.

Jax Grill seems like more of a sports bar than restaurant (and the quality of the CFS reflects this). There is a wealth of sports related gear on the walls and several TVs for viewing of the pigskin. The menu appears geared towards this crowd with several “baskets” and “platters” of fried goodness.

CFS: OK. It was juicy and the tenderness of the meat was good. But, several bites tasted “off” and the odor was not pleasant (a big pet peeve of mine). This tended to ruin the experience a bit.
...A side tasting of Mrs. CFS’s CFC also didn’t impress. The chicken was juicy but the taste was a bit off and it didn’t have enough chicken flavor for my liking.

Breading: Nice – fluffy but crunchy. Southern style, it had a light brown color and held up well to the thick gravy. It did not stick particularly well to the steak, but I won’t complain since I can’t get mine to stick either.

Gravy: A very creamy white sauce. It was velvety and almost cheesy. It tasted fresh (in a diary way) but lacked a depth of flavor. It tasted as though too much heavy cream was used and not enough seasoning (although there was a hint of something subtle like tarragon).

Sides: The meal came with only French fries as a side. The fries were good – nicely salted and crispy. Abandoning my CFS, I discovered that the ketchup / gravy mix on the fries was a nice combo (…patent pending).

Price: $7.95 for lunch (it was listed as $8.45 on the big menu board, so perhaps the price came down or the lunch special was cheaper). For the amount of food, this was a good deal.

Service: Walk up counter service and orders picked up separately. This was efficient and the food came out quickly.

Music: Only the cacophony of the wait staff moving chairs and tables for the impending Texans game.

I’d probably go back to Jax Grill to watch a game or suck down some chicken wings. But, I’ll stay away from the CFS.

1613 Shepherd Dr.Houston, TX 77007(713) 861-5529

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old Mill Inn - Dallas, TX

Chicken Fried Road Trip: Dallas
(Part II)

After a long day of learning and exploring at the museums of Fair Park with tater tot, we were hungry for sustenance. Fortunately, there is a Dallas institution a few steps from the museums and nestled in the heart of Fair Park. So, I talked Chicken Fried Family into a lunchtime visit (it wasn't hard).

The Old Mill Inn’s exterior resembles a quaint old mill and the inside reminds one of a large diner. We practically the only people in the restaurant and we got a great deal of attention from the welcoming staff.

The CFS: It was tough and overcooked. The meat was dense and hard to chew, like an old shoe. This made for an unpleasant bite.

Breading: Despite the toughness of the meat, the breading was good. Southern style with a nice deep brown color.

Gravy: A white, cream gravy. Nothing remarkable but it was a good compliment to the dish.
Knife: Standard kitchen knife provided, but given the density of the meat, something more on the order of a chainsaw was needed.

Sides: Choose two. I chose mashed potatoes (which were good but nothing special) and the black eyed peas. The black eyed peas were simply amazing. Of course, being close to New Years Day and being a Texan, it’s tradition to eat them. But, these rightfully should be eaten every day. They were cooked in a wonderful broth with ham (or ham hocks) giving the beans an amazing flavor.

Cost: $ 10.99. Not a bad price, if the meal was cooked properly.

Service: Superb! The staff, especially our waitress, were so friendly and exceptionally welcoming. Our waitress swapped stories about being a grandmother with Chicken Fried Mother and was friendly and gracious with the tot, even as he demanded macaroni and cheese.

Music Selection: None.

The Old Mill Inn is a treasure and worth a visit. I’d recommend it, but ask for your CFS to be cooked medium.

3611 Grand Avenue, Dallas.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Country Burger - Plano, TX

Chicken Fried Road Trip: Dallas (Part 1)

I’ve driven by the Country Burger in my old hometown hundreds of time but had never eaten there. But, visiting over the holidays and a powerful hunger for CFS prompted me to stop in and (finally) try it. Chicken Fried Father joined me for the inaugural tasting.

The Country Burger is a neatly organized little place in the corner of a strip mall. Immediately the customers in line and the guy taking orders at the counter were friendly with us and we shared a joke about being out the house for the last time this holiday season. The d├ęcor was simple with a few booths and several long tables dotting the rather large restaurant.

The CFS: Juicy and tasty. It was a thinly pounded cube steak and it was well cooked.

Breading: The breading was thin and crispy – more central Texas style than the southern style I usually get around Houston. Troublingly, the breading had an odd “fishy” taste, almost as if they had fried up a mess of catfish before our CFSs and then fried our CFSs. The flavor of each bite was almost indistinguishable from a bite of catfish. This tended to ruin an otherwise tasty CFS.

(I should note that Chicken Fried Father enjoyed his CFS, although he unorthodoxly put jalapenos on his).

The gravy: Very good. Nice and peppery. White. It came in two little cups on the side so we could dole out the creamy goodness at our leisure. There was also a hint of an undefined herb: possibly sage or tarragon.

The sides: No choices – it came with French fries and Texas toast. The fries were really excellent: warm, salty and juicy. The Texas toast was amazing. It was fried on one side with butter but the other side was left uncooked. This made for an incredible bite with a nice crunch from one side and a soft chew on the other side. The sweet tea was also very nice.

Service: Table service. You’re assigned a vibrating / blinking device when your food is up. Everyone was very friendly and most welcoming.
Price: $6.99. A good deal.

I’d like to try Country Burger again (after they change the oil in the fryer, of course) – there are some neat items on the menu. It’s hard to find a good local CFS place but sometimes the right place has been there all along.
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