Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Feasts

Solar reindeer and trees
It seems as if we haven’t been out of Texas in months but that doesn’t mean that we’ve stayed strictly at home. As is usual during the holidays between Thanksgiving and the New Year, we’re prowling the area shopping, visiting with friends and family and for the most part eating at places we’ve patronized previously. However, since restaurants tend to come and go rather frequently we have found a place or two that are new to us. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.  

Three and one-half carrots
On one of our forays into Denton (Doing Lunch in Denton) we met some friends at the Barley and Board (100 West Oak Street, Denton, TX 76201, 940-566-3900). This brewpub
Top L to R: Menu, Motherboard
Bottom L to R: Sandwich, Salad
fits in nicely with a college environment and since it’s across from a used book store, it’s a great place to meet with diversions if you arrive early or stay late. There is street parking available if there’s nothing special happening in the town. When it’s warm, the large windows are open and it’s quite pleasant; however, since Texas is well known for mosquitoes, you won’t be surprised if you get a bite or two. There’s nothing to absorb the sound since the walls are wood and the floors are brick, so when it’s crowded, it’s rather noisy. We started the meal with a Motherboard, a nice mix of cheeses, sausage’s, pickles, jelly and a few crackers; it was delightful. My Chicken Goat salad was really good; I particularly liked the sweet tang of the cranberries that contrasted with the smooth goat cheese. Dave had a Harvest Turkey sandwich that was thick and well spiced; he enjoyed it, thoroughly.

Fort Worth
Three and one-half carrots
The ROC 1 is on Green Oaks Drive in Fort Worth and has been there for years. River Oaks 
Top L to R: Menu, Tacos, Eggs
Middle L to R: Beef tips, Eggs, Eggs and ham
Bottom L to R: Mac and cheese, Chicken fried steak
Cafe 2
(7355 North Beach Street, Fort Worth, TX 76137, 817-232-1155) has just opened up in what we consider the west side of Keller, although it’s technically in Fort Worth (Flitting around Fort Worth, and Inside Amon G Carter). Their menus are substantially different (according to what I can see online). We’d originally tagged this as a breakfast place in which to dine, but Dave and I decided to have lunch here. I had a plate of Twisted Mac and Cheese with broccoli that was good, but a bit surprising that there was nothing to accompany it. Dave had the lunch special: Beef Tips and noodles came with mashed potatoes and fried okra; he liked the okra the best of what was on his plate. Probably the best part of the meal was the fresh rolls that reminded us of ‘school cafeteria’ bread, although it would have been better had it been hotter. We really weren’t impressed with lunch, but if you want ‘home cooking’ it’s okay. A week later we actually did make it here for breakfast and had a rather different experience. This meal was significantly better than lunch. The coffee was good as were the meals. The pulled pork tacos were different from what I expected, but filled with meat, cheese and what seemed to be more than one egg per taco; I liked it. Vince had one of the ‘small appetites’ plates with one eggs, a strip of bacon and a biscuit with gravy; he said it was just what he wanted. Steve said that his chicken fried steak and eggs were good enough that he’d have it again. Dave had two eggs, bacon and pancakes. The pancakes were huge and tasty; he was pleased with his meal. Andi had two eggs, ham and home fries, along with some homemade hot sauce. She said it was all pretty good. Prices were very reasonable and the waitresses were efficient. I’m guessing that we’ll be returning here for another family breakfast. One of our major recommendations is that if it’s winter, don’t sit near the door; the wind coming in is stinkin’ cold! 
Three carrots

54th Street Restaurant and Draft House (9251 Rain Lily Trail, Fort Worth, TX 76177, 817-750-5400) sent us a coupon so we thought we’d check out their offerings; after a slight bit of
Top L to R: Soup/sandwich, Menu
Bottom L to R: Reuben, Cuban sandwiches
research I found that this is a chain restaurant. It’s is one of those places with lots of vintage ‘stuff’ used for decorating, wooden floors, and when it’s busy, lots of noise. However, the service was good and the food was okay. Vince had a half a Sliced Ham sandwich with a bowl of Outlaw Steak soup; he said the soup was really good but the sandwich was only average. Dave’s Grilled Reuben sandwich wasn’t quite a flavorful as he had expected; the fries were fresh but nothing special. As with Dave’s sandwich, my Havana Club didn’t live up to the flavors I’d expected. Basically it tasted like a plain sandwich with some un-spiced pork and chicken. However, I really liked the sweet potato fries. We’d go back if we had another coupon and we’d try something different.

Three and one-half carrots
Manny G’s (444 Keller Parkway, Keller, TX 76248, 817-431-9393) has been in Keller (just 
Top L to R: Eggs, Menu
Bottom L to R: Pancakes, Sandwich
put Keller into the blog search bar and you’ll find more than you want to know about our town and nearby places to eat) forever and is an easy place to overlook. The restaurant is located in an old house that belongs to the family that owns the restaurant. They lived here for about 60 years. The inside is divided into a rather large bar area and the restaurant. It’s a family sort of place with lots of the patrons well known to the servers. We were looking for somewhere that Dave could have breakfast and I could have lunch; the kitchen was almost out of some of the breakfast foods, but the waitress made sure that the substitutions made were to our liking. Dave had the Manny G’s breakfast that was more food than he expected: two eggs, two meats, grits, flapjacks and bread. The flapjacks were huge but very tasty. I chose a BLT that was piled high with bacon and was just what I wanted. The waitress was not only efficient, but fun and told us about the restaurant’s history as well as what sorts of family activities they have in the evenings. We had a good time and want to try some other items on their menu.
Three and one-half carrots
Seven Mile Café (110 West Vine Street, Keller, TX 76248, 817-379-3186) is the latest addition to downtown Keller. We thought we’d drop in for brunch on the second-coldest day 
Top L to R: Menu, Cheese sandwich
Bottom: Eggs Benedict
of the season and were a bit dismayed to discover that parking was an issue due to major parking lot construction; this should not be an issue by about February. This is a pretty little place that has taken over the space that was once Keller City Hall; the wooden furniture blends quite nicely with the hard-wood floors and walls. Service was good, and our server was very knowledgeable about the menu and how foods were prepared; she also had a good sense of humor. The all-day breakfast menu is quite varied with several different eggs Benedict offerings available. There are also sandwiches, burgers, salads, and tortilla soup for lunch. Beverage service includes a variety of coffee drinks, teas, and limited bar options (we did see some happy ladies with a pitcher of mimosas). Dave decided on the crab cake Benedict with a side of Gouda cheese grits. He was surprised that there was no bread, but Victoria (our waitress) told him that since the crab cakes were crusted in panko batter the chef felt that bread would be redundant. I was tickled that the cakes were made with tiny amounts of bell pepper rather than onion or chives; I know what I’m going to have the next time we eat here. We were both surprised that the Hollandaise sauce was cool; Victoria brought Dave some that was a bit warmer. The Gouda grits were yummy and he liked the flavor of the eggs and the crab cakes, too! I decided to try the grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar and bacon on sourdough bread. The side was either chips or hash browns, which I chose. My food was a bit underwhelming for $10, although there was plenty of it. As we walked out, I happened to spy the bakery case and there were some very good looking breakfast breads that were calling my name; I resisted. On the whole we liked this place and will probably bring some folks back to sample more items from the menu.
Three carrots
Roy's Mexican-American Cuisine (1110 Keller Parkway, Keller, TX 76248, 817-741-4100) 
Top L to R: Omelet, Menu, Biscuit
Middle L to R: Red/Green eggs, Migas
Bottom: Bacon/eggs
replaced the El Paseo restaurant that had been here for years. We gave it a try because we were looking for a Mexican restaurant that offered breakfast on a Sunday. Perhaps it was because they didn’t have a permanent staff in place, but service was incredibly slow. Dave, Andi and Steve chose Mexican dishes, but I wasn’t particularly hungry so I chose a smaller plate. Andi had the Huevos Divorciados (two separate eggs, one with red salsa and one with green) with home fries. Steve had a Sausage and Cheese Omelet with hash browns. Dave had Migas Con Salsa Roja o Verde (salsa covered eggs served with tortilla strips, chicken, eggs, mozzarella cheese and two flour tortillas). I had bacon, eggs, hash browns and a biscuit with gravy. None of us were impressed with the food, but I will say that the gravy was good.

Three and one-half carrots
Occasionally we find a chain restaurant that is in the right place at the right time. Fish City Grill (581 West Debbie Lane, Mansfield, TX 76063, 817-225-2094) is new to Mansfield 
Top L to R: Menu, Trout
Bottom L to R: Char, Fish/Chips
(Marching through Mansfield and One Hump or Two), so rather than driving all the way into Arlington, we decided to give it a try. Our first surprise was that since it was Veteran’s Day both Dave’s and Vince’s meals were free. The second surprise was that since we’d not been in the restaurant previously they brought a sample of their oyster nachos and their soups to share. Vince had the fish and chips; he still wants regular chips rather than potato chips, but he said the meal was good. Dave had grilled rainbow trout that he really liked, along with some okay peas. I had the Arctic Char and although it was good, it didn’t taste like what I’d gotten in Iceland. What I really liked were the roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon – they were amazing! Our waitress was fairly efficient, but disappeared occasionally when we needed her assistance.

North Richland Hills
Three and one-half carrots
El Tejas Mexican Restaurant Bar and Grill (7630 NE Loop 820, North Richland Hills, TX 
Left T to B: Chips/salsa, Migas
Right T to B: Menu, El Rey, Huevos Rancheros
76180, 817-428-1900) is an off shoot of the Huerta family restaurants in Houston. It has just opened in North Richland Hills (Home on the Range) and the local management is still breaking in staff. Steve ordered the El Rey which is a chicken fried steak, but surprisingly it came with the eggs on top so he couldn’t tell if the breading was crispy, though the flavor was good. Dave and Andi had the Huevos Rancheros which was larger than they anticipated, but, again, the flavor was good. I had a very nice plate of Migas. We all agreed that the queso was very good, with a smoky flavor to the cheese. The hot sauce wasn’t particularly hot, but had a good flavor. The chips were okay. We will probably go back, again.

It’s been fun traveling to places large and small this year and sharing our experiences. The Near-Normal Travelers send our best wishes for your holidays and hope you have as many adventures in your future as we are planning for our 2017!
Christmas Cactus
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