What's on My Food?

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Disappointing Dinner

Hi Boys and Girls!

As many of you know, I have lived near Gruene, Texas for 16 years. Gruene is a quaint little town famous for it's wonderful gift shops and the oldest dance hall in Texas. There are many restaurants and lots of tourists. http://www.gruenetexas.com/  This is where we take anyone from out of town to shop, eat and dance. There are lots of antiques shops, a wine tasting room and a world-famous fish and tackle shop. If one needs a special gift on a short notice, Gruene is the place to find it.

Well, this evening Gruene really disappointed me. I, along with another quilt guild member, was hosting our out of town guest presenter and went to Gruene River Grill for dinner. http://www.gruenerivergrill.com/ This restaurant overlooks the river. It has a massive floor to ceiling fireplace (husband of a friend of mine built the fireplace), nice bar, impressive menu and on and on. It is a very popular restaurant. We started off with drinks and appetizer in the bar area around 4:40 pm.We told the "waiter" we intended to have dinner in a little while.I have quotes around the word "waiter" because he acted like he could not "wait" for us to leave.

The drinks were delivered without napkins. The chips and picante sauce came with no spoon. No limes for the margaritas. It was at least 30 minutes later when we saw our "waiter" again. After another 30 minutes, one guest got up and looked for him in the bar area to request a dinner menu. We had not been given menus and were getting hungry. Then we found out dinner is not served in the bar area on weekends!We clearly told the young man that we intended to order dinner there.

By this time, the restaurant is packed with lots of people waiting for tables. We had been there almost 2 hours already. We explained our situation to the hostess and told her the "waiter" in the bar area never told us we could not be served dinner there. The hostess apologized and put us next on the seating list.

Finally, we got a table and a very nice waiter. We did not need to read the menu again...we knew what we wanted. You see, the "waiter" in the bar gave us a dinner menu. So, why didn't it register with him that we were going to order dinner?

We had a good meal but the impression left with our out of town guest was not good. We live here. We are not tourists. We are not eating and leaving Gruene not to return for a year or two. The Gruene River Grill has insulted local citizens. This is a big mistake.

The Gruene River Grill needs to train wait staff personnel. The kid that "waited" on us in the bar could not have cared less about our needs. That is unacceptable. After speaking with the manager, I may consider making another visit in a couple of months.

For now, I highly recommend The Gruene Onion. http://www.thegrueneonion.com/  I have never had a bad meal there and more important, have never been ignored.

Until next time, plant your basil and other herbs and trim your roses (if they are still alive)!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day Special Treat

Hi Boys and Girls!

I hope you all are surviving the cold, snow, sleet and all around winter weather. Here in Central Texas, we have had it all...9" of snow in Weatherford, more than 5" of rain here in Comal County and freezing temps for over two weeks! Mother Nature...give our plants a break!

A special dinner was enjoyed at Cool Mint Cafe in San Marcos, Texas. http://www.coolmintcafe.com/
Our meal started with a glass of bubbly champagne. All the foods are prepared
with organic ingredients and are very fresh. It was a 4-Course meal. After the champagne came our appetizer. Roberto ordered scallops and I ordered Tower of Tejas! This was grapefruit, oranges, jicama, varied greens, avacado and red onion vinaigrette.

 It was mucho delicioso!

Roberto had 3 different roasted beets and raspberries with orange vinaigrette.

Then came the second course. I chose Wild Rice Pancakes stuffed with Butternut Squash & Green Chiles
Tres chiles rojos . It was really a crepe. Oh my gosh...this was so good. It gave me the idea to make this as a dinner but using flour tortillas. The butternut squash was chopped into tiny pieces and the green chiles did not over power the squash. Of course, I gave Roberto a bite. He liked it too.

We each chose a different entree so we could try each one. Roberto's choice:

Vegetable Wellington--Flavorful three layer terrine with mushroom pate, anise carrots & Peruvian potatoes with aji chile wrapped in crusty golden puff pastry. With mole verde & fresh fruit salsa.

This seemed rather bland to me but Roberto said it had a "kick" to it. The crust could have been baked longer. I thought my small bite was a bit mushy. Roberto ate the whole thing!

On the other hand, I chose:

Duck with Mushroom Risotto
Duck breast dusted with juniper & pink peppercorns and cranberry demiglace.
Served over rich wild & exotic mushroom risotto. Oh my gosh...this was flavorful! Juicy and succulent and the risotto was perfect...ok maybe a little mushy, but that is the way risotto is supposed to be cooked. True Italian style. Look at this beautiful dish.

Now, is that beautiful, or what?
We both did not think we had room for dessert but Valentine's Day is only once a year. So, we forced ourselveves!
Roberto's all-time favorite cookie is oatmeal chocolate chip. So he chose for dessert the
Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cookie Taco Filled with fruit & mascarpone.

Roberto was a real peach and gave me a bite of the chocolate cone. I am a sucker for figs so I had the Figs Stuffed with Marzipan Drizzled with Honey & Mint.

Personally, I think my dessert should have been drizzled HEAVILY in chocolate but I had to make do with the honey and mint. Our wine selections went perfectly with our foods. The atmosphere is very homey. In fact, the room we were in was exactly like our first home. Stone fireplace with glass bookshelves on both sides. Come to think of it, my childhood home in San Diego, CA was the same as this room. So, it must be a pretty old house. If you are in the area, give this restaurant a try. If you like fresh, organic foods, you will like the Cool Mint Cafe. Oh, be sure you like hearing the same song being played over and over again...Seems someone must have hit the "repeat" button on the CD player. Other than that, we had a great time.
Until next time, cook a meal together, eat some fresh veggies, play a game after dinner and don't forget to say "I love you!" Oh, and call your mother!