Sunday, January 11, 2015

Home for the Holidays and Review of Area Restaurants

Christmas Cactus
This week ends our holiday celebrations. Spending time with friends and family makes November through January entertaining and many times expands our ideas about places to go and things to do. We didn’t travel far from home around Christmas, but I did spend a few days out of town at New Year’s (more about that later). One of the things we do over holidays is sample restaurants we haven’t tried and return to some of our favorites. We also spend one evening driving around the area to look at Christmas decorations and may take a walk through the town center.

This year I had planned to attend the official Keller Christmas Tree lighting. We gathered our cameras, dusted off the tripod, put on coats, hats, scarfs and gloves then headed to
Bear Creek covered bridge
downtown.  It was odd that parking was easy, there were no crowds, the tree and streets were lonely; we had missed the official ceremony by one day. Since we were out anyway, we decided to go in search of other city holiday lights. In Bear Creek Park the covered bridge, gazebo and a juniper tree were strung with lovely lights. We enjoyed the site, but the geese weren’t particularly happy about having their sleep disturbed.

Irritated geese
There was also a Christmas light competition among businesses, individuals, streets and neighborhoods. This year we visited 20 different areas to see the entries. All were fun to see
Christmas decorations and Leg Lamp
and several were impressive. Over the years we’ve found that the same people/areas enter the contest, so while some displays are only slightly different depending on the theme, others have made extra efforts to reflect new ideas. This year the organizers decided to let citizens vote for their favorites; some of our choices won, others didn’t even make the top three. The display I liked best featured the leg lamp from A Christmas Story.

Area Restaurant Reviews

Keller Town Square
The Keller – Southlake – Mid-Cities area has lots of places to eat and many of them are very good. There are ‘mom and pop’ places, as well as state and national ‘chains’; cuisines vary as well, so if you can’t find something to eat, you’re not looking. Prices range from very inexpensive to very expensive. For information about this rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

What we ate and ate and ate…
Four and one-half Carrots
Sea Siam (940 Keller Pkwy Ste 230, Keller, TX 76248, 817-431-1581) is my all-time favorite
L: Salad and egg roll
Top to Bottom: Coconut Soup, Red Curry, Pad Thai
Thai restaurant. We are always greeted by at least one of the family and they always know exactly what I want, Pad Thai. Dave orders something different from the menu each time and is never disappointed, although his favorite is one of the several curries. The food is always fresh and can be personalized to your taste. The coconut soup is wonderful; the salad and egg roll are tasty. And when you become addicted to the peanut sauce, it is available in Central Market ~ if they aren’t sold out, again! There is plenty of food to take home for another meal.

This was our first visit to Chef Point (5901 Watauga Rd., Watauga, TX 76148, 817-656-0080) and it won’t be our last. The chef, Franson Nwaeze, came by to chat with us about
Top to Bottom: Chicken Pesto Pasta
Crab Cake Pasta
our meal telling me that if I would call him before I came, he would prepare eggplant dishes for me since they were no longer on the menu. I had Chicken Pesto Pasta which had just the right mix of garlic and basil; it was even better the next day when I had the second half for dinner. Dave indulged in the Crab Cake Pasta with a roasted bell pepper sauce. He said it was outstanding with a fresh flavor and nicely cooked bow-tie pasta.

Four Carrots

Rockfish Seafood Grill (3785 S Cooper St, Arlington, TX 76015, 817-419-9988) is our go-to seafood restaurant in this area. The fish is good and well-prepared. Dave’s favorite is the Atlantic Fish and Chips, mine is the small order of Santa Fe Tacos. In both cases the fish is firm and the breading is crispy. The slaw is crunchy and tangy. While the tartar sauce is good, the Ancho sauce is wonderful with just the right amount of heat. One of the other positive things about ordering here is I can ask for my food to be made without onions, and they will accommodate me. While I usually take home half my food, Dave generally finishes his order.

Kassandra’s Mexican Kitchen (813 Keller Pkwy, Keller, TX 76248, 817-337-1577) is our favorite place for breakfast. This is a family-run eatery with many of the clan working as cooks and waitpersons. Although they specialize in Mexican food, you can get plain bacon and eggs, pancakes, waffles, or other traditional meal. The carne guisada with fried eggs is very good, as are the Divorced Eggs (two eggs, one with green sauce and the other with red sauce). Dave ordered the King Burrito that he ate on for three days; I got my usual bacon and egg soft taco with avocado. The jalapeños are fresh and hot; if you have a tender mouth you can get your order without the peppers. Some mornings, if the rice is finished, you can get a plate of beef or cheese enchiladas rather than breakfast. As with other of my favorite places, meals can be adapted to taste and many times certain ingredients can be removed or added. I have also eaten lunch here several times and the food and service are just as good as at breakfast.

El Fenix (885 N.E. Alsbury Blvd, Burleson, TX 76028, 817-984-7110) has been in Texas for years and is one of the premier ‘chain’ restaurants. We’ve been enjoying their cuisine for years and it has rarely disappointed. Usually we stop by for lunch and on this cold day a hot lunch was very appealing. I chose a taco and cheese enchilada plate with rice and beans; as usual I couldn’t finish it. Dave had a Chimichanga Sabrosa with chicken and queso. While the sauces and fillings are pre-made, I can get foods that must be assembled made to my specifications; in most cases, onion is not used as a filler in meat dishes.

Top to Bottom: Pumpkin Ravioli, Risotto Insalata
We had been meaning to try Brio Tuscan Grill (1431 Plaza Pl, Southlake, TX 76092, 817-310-3136) for quite a while and we are glad we did. The seasonal pumpkin ravioli with ricotta in a creamy sauce with squash and cranberries was wonderful. Dave’s Risotto and Insalata were nicely prepared and well worth the cost. Along with lunch came a basket of bread that went very well with our meal. Service was excellent.

Three and one-half Carrots
Taste of Asia (7420 Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX 76137, 817-503-1818) has a broad range of foods on its menu. We have been here several times and sampled items from the regular
Crab Rangoon
and sushi menu. This time I got hot and sour soup with crab Rangoon; this was a great combination. Dave had a Bento Box with tempura shrimp and vegetables. Dad had Szechwan Chicken with extra hot chili sauce. We all enjoyed our meals. There were plenty of Rangoons to take home. They do use lots of onions in their recipes.

The Quarter Horse (1632 Keller Pkwy Ste 100, Keller, TX 76248, 817-431-3203) has been around for a few years as the Chow ’N Chill Bar & Grill run by ‘Papa G’. However, they have
Clockwise from top: Patty Melt, Jalapeño Soup, BLT,
Texas Reuben
lately changed both name and menu. A bunch of us met for lunch and samples various offerings. Juan’s Jalapeño Soup was tasty and a great accompaniment for the Texas Reuben. While the Reuben was good, it was on swirled rye/pumpernickel bread rather than on plain rye bread. The QH BLT was huge with a side of homemade potato chips and some Sweet Fire Pickles that added a nice snap to the sandwich.  The Patty Melt was also large with nicely sautéed onions. While it was really chilly in the restaurant, the service was great and the beer was cold. We’re hoping that the brunch menu expands to include their once great crab cake Benedict; at this point the brunch menu is rather boring.

Everything German (660 Grapevine Hwy, Hurst, TX 76054, 682-503-7991) is located in a strip shopping center and, judging from the crowd on Saturday night, is well liked. I was
Top: Salad, Schnitzel ‘Försterin Art’
Bottom: Schnitzel, Black Forest Cake
really hoping to sample the Schäferschnitzel, but this as well as all of the sauces were preassembled so there was no way my issue with onions could be addressed. The schnitzel with spätzle was okay, but lacking any sort of sauce, rather dry and flavorless. The salad of mixed vegetables was quite tasty. Dave had the Schnitzel ‘Försterin Art’ and said it was very good. The Black Forest Cake serving was huge and absolutely delicious. Our servers did an excellent job of accommodating a group of 17 loud, crazy librarians and significant others. 

Three Wise Bunnies
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