Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lone Star Steakhouse Seafood and Grill – Beaumont, TX

Chicken Fried Road Trip: New Orleans (Part 1 of 2)

I don’t know what it is about road trips that makes me hungry, but in the midst of a trip to New Orleans, I got the hunger bug. Fortunately, I located Lone Star just off I-10 and headed in.

The inside d├ęcor is minimal and stripped down and had the feel of a real roadside diner (which, in effect, it was). The brown vinyl covered tables, wood panel walls made the place comfortable, if not a page out of Southern Living.

The CFS: Unevenly cooked – parts that were very juicy (as juicy as I’ve tasted) but parts were tough and overcooked.

Breading: Rich, peppery. Southern style. Good flavor. The charring on the side (my friend Texas Chef told me) is probably a result of pan frying, not deep frying.

Gravy: White, cream gravy. Flakes of pepper but not overpowering. Flavorful, rich. Good compliment to the CFS overall.

Knife: Steak knife provided and was appropriate.

Sides: Choose 3 (with the “small” CFS). I chose the okra, cornbread stuffing and the mashed potato, desiring to boost my starch intake for the long drive to the “big easy.” The stuffing was a bit dry and plain, although it was tasty. The okra was very good: lightly fried and tasted of…okra, suggesting it was fresh and recently fried. The mashed potato were also very good (same gravy was on it) – well whipped, good flavor and good balance of flavors.

Cost: $ 10.99 for the “small CFS.” A bit high but the food was fresh, fast and homemade.

Service: Good. A bit slow, although I arrived at the height of the lunch rush, so things seemed a bit chaotic. My waitress was very apologetic for the delays and got my food out quickly. She kept calling me “baby,” not in a romantic way but in a mother-son kind of way (I assume). (this was not uncommon as visits to other non-CFS restaurants in New Orleans repeated this pattern).

Music Selection: None.

Overall, this was perfect road food and well worth the time to temporarily halt my journey for a brief respite from the road.

6685 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont 77706.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Neal’s Restaurant – Spring, TX

Hunger for a starchy meal on a Saturday, we made a run north to Spring to try Neal’s Restaurant. Neal’s is a neat place that boasts of several country classics.

The inside is stocked with various animal heads (moose, elk, deer, none of which was on the menu), pictures from local students (a good sign) and a giant Texas flag (an even better sign). The place is very casual and exactly what you’d want from a country kitchen.

The CFS: Cube steak that was a bit tough. It wasn’t dramatically overcooked but enough that you’d notice. Still, the meat was flavorful and somewhat juicy.

Breading: Southern style. Good flavor. Flaky. Parts were a little charred which make for a nice crunch and a good smoky flavor.

Gravy: White, cream gravy. It tasted very fresh, like a strong cream. This can be a plus, but it made the gravy a bit sweet. This, combined with a lack of seasoning, over powered the whole CFS with the sweet taste of cream. So, I applied salt and pepper and it was much better.

Knife: Steak knife provided and was appropriate.

Sides: Choose 2. I chose the okra and the mashed potato. The okra was good: it was a bit over fried (too dark and a bit crispy) but it was still good. The mashed potato were also very good with good flavors of garlic and potato.

As a side note, we chose to partake in some of the delicious looking pies in the pie window as we first walked in. There was no room in our stomachs for it, but we pressed ahead. The cherry pie was perfect – just like grandma makes. The Meyer lemon pie was also excellent. But, really, have you ever had bad pie?

Cost: $ 10.99 for the “large CFS.” Given the amount of food and the quality, this was a good bargain. The small order was $8.99 which would have been plenty if I hadn’t dramatically overestimated my appetite.

Service: Top notch. The service was super fast, efficient and my soda was never empty. She even flirted with the tot and provided him with some green Marti Gras beads.

Music Selection: None.

Neal’s Restaurant is in the middle of nowhere but boasts the “best chicken fried steak around.” “Around” being vague enough to imply they’re ready to take on all challengers. After eating there, they’d probably give most a run for their money.

(don’t forget to pick up a pie or a dozen free range eggs on you way out – you won’t be sorry).

Spring, Texas 77388.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

A CFS By Any Other Name Would Be as Delicious...

Also, here's a neat site summarizing the regional differences (and different preparations) of "CFS": It's hard to argue with Alton Brown.

The Results Are In...

Thanks to all who voted in the poll. "Chicken Fried Steak" is apparently the winning title, although this is likely weighted by a heavy Texas readership.

As a reward, watch Paula give Bobby his "cumuppins" in the "Country" Fried Steak Throwdown: didn't think he'd win, did you?
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