Friday, November 11, 2011

NeWorlDeli - Austin, TX

I think I've found Austin's best Reuben...

Tender corned beef stacked high with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on the lightest rye bread you'll ever have, crispy on the outside, really soft everywhere else.  Served with a dill pickle.

What more could you want?

I won't ruin it with words.


Atmosphere:  deli

Food:  sandwiches

Crowd:  lunchers

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  lunch

What or Order for the First Timer:  Reuben

Wednesday's Dinner

Black Pepper Crusted Chicken with Gorgonzola Fettucini

No, it's not burnt.  That's pepper, and lots of it.  Marinate a couple of whole chicken legs in half a cup of milk, tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper, a tablespoon of fresh ground fennel seed, a little red pepper flakes, a couple tablespoons of chipotle Tabasco sauce, and a little salt, then sear both sides on the grill and cook for 25-30 minutes over indirect heat after pouring the remaining marinade on the chicken.

I used homemade fettucini for the pasta, but anything from the store will work.  Saute some mushrooms and garlic clove in butter, then add a chopped tomato without the seeds.  Whisk in a quarter or third of a cup of milk as well as some gorgonzola and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens a little, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the pasta, throw it in a big bowl with the sauce, add some more gorgonzola and some parmigiana, then while you're stirring that really hard, crack an egg into it and stir until it's creamy.

Last Night's Dinner

Cucumber Salad and Veal Soup

Pretty easy on this one.  Thinly slice cucumber, put in a colander with some salt and let drain for an hour or so.  Then season with white pepper, chopped chives, equal parts water and vinegar, and a little sugar to taste.  Let marinate for a while then top with sour cream and paprika.

The soup is one of my favorites from a little European restaurant back home in Indiana.  Chop an onion, two carrots, and a celery stalk, add that and a small jar of drained pimentos to a pan and saute in butter until soft.  Add some veal shoulder or stew meat chopped up into little half inch pieces or so and saute until brown, then drain, add a half teaspoon each or so of dried thyme, dried marjoram, and ground nutmeg, a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and six cups or so of beef broth (I made my own by browning marrow bones, oxtail, and an onion then added red wine and cooked down then simmered with water for a few hours).  Bring to a boil and let simmer for around an hour.  After that scramble two eggs and slowly add some of the soup to it, then take that, and half the remaining soup, and pulse in a blender to chop everything up a bit.  Stir that back into the remaining soup with a couple more tablespoons of butter and some more chopped parsley, off the heat, and serve with hot french bread and sour cream if you want.

Texas Honey Ham Company

Do you ever long for those leftover ham sandwiches in the weeks following Easter and Christmas, but find that fifty weeks out of the year don't have a religious holiday that justifies you cooking four times the quantity of food that any normal person should?

Then folks, Texas Honey Ham Company is for you.

I know, I know, this place is a little flashy for a sandwich shop, but try to see through all the pomp and circumstance and see that this place is THE place to go for a hand-carved sandwich that makes you feel like you're in the comfort of your childhood home.

Several different sandwich options here, based mainly on ham and turkey, and I opted for their signature sandwich, The Choice Slice Sandwich.

A third of a pound of carved, cooked ham, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, dirty mustard, and mayo on a toasted fresh baked bun.  Wow, this was great.  The ham tasted just like a holiday ham cut right from the bone, tender and juicy, the lettuce and onion provided a crisp crunch, and the sweet-side mustard brought it all together on a really, really good, soft bun.

The baked potato casserole you see to the side of it I could do without on my next trip.  Really nothing more than lumpy mashed red potatoes with nearly undetectable traces of bacon and onion.  Remember though, you're here for the sandwich.  Get some chips.


Atmosphere:  homey, neighborhoody, great for a lunch meeting, family friendly, carryout

Food:  ham and turkey sandwiches, soups and salads

Crowd:  families, neighbors, hotmoms, businessmen

Dog Friendly:  yes, at a few outside tables

When to Go:  lunch

What to Order for the First Timer:  The Choice Slice Sandwich or the Club

Hank's Garage - Austin, TX

Admittedly and regrettably I haven't posted many restaurant reviews lately as I've been cooking at home nearly every night and when I have stopped somewhere for a bite, it's been for the old standbys that I've already written about.  That said, let's see if I remember how to do this.

                                  Hank's Garage                                          Belgian Pub

                                                Hank's Garage                  Belgian Pub

                                                         Hanks Garage, Belgian Pub

I know, doesn't really seem to jive, does it.  I'm afraid this place is suffering from location and identity issues.  I've been wanting to check out this "Belgian Pub" for a while now, and finally made it there last week for a quick dinner and a beer.

I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but was hoping it was along the lines of a place called Vol de Nuit in the West Village of Manhattan, which I visited a few years back.  Not having been to Belgium to see what a real Belgian Pub is like, I've got to believe that this is a pretty good replication... for greasy tank tops, of course.

Small, intimate, secluded, dark only for the dimly lit red lights, dusty hardwood floors, fantastic Belgian beers of all sorts on tap, expertly executed fries, and mouthwatering mussels swimming in a flavorful broth.

Instead, we've got this...

...which doesn't look all that bad in these pictures, I realize, but just doesn't have that feel that I so expected and wanted.  First off, the place is huge, and with windows across the entire front of the joint, exposed ceilings and concrete floors, an open kitchen, and a menu meant to look like a clipboard list of garage services and estimates, it just doesn't scream PUB at me.  Give me dark.  Give me scary.  Give me food that comes from a mysterious room somewhere off the grid.

If the place isn't packed (and there were two other people there when I was there), sounds quietly echo
through the place, even over the horrific sounds of Brent Musburger ringing out from one of several flat screen TVs around the place.  It's identity crisis starts with it trying to decide if it's a restaurant, a pub, or a sports bar, and with a location at Second and San Jacinto downtown, it's more likely to attract name-tagged convention goers than thirsty locals looking for a place to drown the beating of a hard days work in some high-octane beer.

Now, I get that the place has a history, and is in fact a former garage, as the bartenders will clearly point out, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the theme they're going for.

That said...despite the odd format, the menu looked excellent, and I would have had trouble picking out what to eat if not for my craving for fries that lead me there in the first place.  Even with that, there are a lot options for fries, starting with regular or duck fat, and then a great list of dipping sauces including garlicky aioli, smoked paprika mayonnaise, dill creme fraiche, Sriracha mayo and Bearnaise.  They've also got poutine, a north of the border delicacy known more commonly to American Northeast stoners and ski bums as french fries and gravy, which caught my attention quickly.  They have a few different kinds, but I went with the classic, with brown sauce and cheese curds, and for no extra charge I added a side of smoked paprika mayonnaise.

Awesome.  It was awesome.

Fries leaning toward the soggy side, a combination of cooking technique and gravy, without being greasy, a flavorful gravy, chewy cheese curds, and a wonderfully flavored dipping sauce.

I paired it with a Duchess de Bourge ale, which was the closest they could come to a sour beer I was looking for, and though a little on the sweet side for my taste, it was very good and went perfectly with the fries.  I'd have liked to see a little more Belgian oriented beer selection, but I do realize this is Texas, so to survive they must have the basics.  It was a little disheartening though to see Coors and Coors light at the top of the draught menu, and only after twenty beers ranging the gambit from American mass-produced to widely-distributed microbrews to German, Scottish and Irish lagers did they get to nine Belgians that they feature, half of which are made on this side of the Atlantic.  That said, there's a taste on there for everyone, so if you're with a group looking for fries and beer, this is a good spot.

And it's a spot that I'll go back to.  For the fries, a great beer, and Brent Musburger's opinion on whatever it is he feels like talking about, God help us all.


Atmosphere:  confused, sports barry, a little sterile, good for groups

Food:  Belgian influenced, fries, mussels, burgers, sandwiches, and meat dishes

Crowd:  two old guys in starched shirts (on my visit there)

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  happy hour, dinner

What to Order for the First Timer:  Classic Poutine with Smoked Paprika Mayonnaise

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Remember Roseanne?  Remember her restaurant?  The Lanford Lunch Box.

Loosemeat Sandwiches.

Friend of mine from Iowa came into town this weekend and got me thinking about that regional delicacy, so on Sunday I fired up the skillet and made it happen.

First, go get yourself a pound of ground beef.  Second, pour yourself a beer.  Third, chop half an onion, throw it in a pan with a little oil, and saute it until soft.  Fourth, add the ground beef and once it starts browning, mash it up with a potato masher or a fork if you don't have one.  Fifth, drain a little of the fat off.  Sixth, add some paprika, around a tablespoon of Worcestershire and the same amount of vinegar, some salt and pepper, and then a cup or so of chicken or beef broth.  Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or so.

When that's done, butter a bun and put it butter side down in a really hot pan until lightly brown, pile the loosemeat on the bottom of the bun, paint the bun with yellow mustard, add a Claussen dill pickle slice and a slice of onion.  Cheap never tasted so good.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Saturday's Dinner

Stroganoff Steak Sandwiches

One of my all time favorite meals, this one is easy and good.  I did this one open faced (and this picture is of leftovers so the meat isn't as bloody as I really like it), but I do them as a sandwich too.

Marinate a flank steak overnight in a 2/3 beer, 1/3 olive oil, smashed garlic, salt and pepper combo.  Grill it to the way you like it and while you're doing so, cook down some sliced onions with butter and paprika over medium heat until they're really soft, the longer the better and feel free to turn down the heat.  I usually do it for 20-30 minutes or so.  After you pull the meat off the grill, let it rest, and throw some buttered french bread halves on the grill to char them, then slice the meat, put it all together, and throw some sour cream on top.


Last Thursday's Dinner

Central European Inspired Chicken

I love the cooking of central europe, but these days it seems good restaurants serving it up are few and far between, so I took it upon myself to create a meal at home one night last week when I was craving it.  So here goes.  This was for one, but you could do it with a whole chicken to if you want.

Get yourself a half a chicken, and brine it in a quart of water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup salt, white pepper, paprika, caraway seed, and parsley stems for several hours.  When that's done, pat it dry, season it with salt, white pepper and paprika and set it aside while you make the filling.

Filling.  Package of refrigerated sauerkraut, a couple of torn up pieces of stale white bread, a shredded potato, an egg, a little white wine, white pepper, paprika and caraway seed.  Mix it all together and stuff the chicken with it, then plop it stuffing side down in a big pan and toss it in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the skin is the color you want it.  Turn it down to 350 after that and let it finish cooking for another 30-40 minutes, and then take out of the oven, slide that bad boy out and let it rest while you make the sauce.

Sauce.  Get the chunks out of the pan but leave the drippings, and over medium heat add about the same amount of flour as fat and stir it constantly to make a light roux.  It'll be really clumpy, but don't worry, just mix in some sour cream, chicken stock, paprika and salt to get it consistency you want and then pour it over your chicken.   You'll like it.  And if you don't, I don't care.  I do.

Dinner A Couple of Weeks Ago

Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Couldn't leave New Orleans without still thinking about the food, so cooked this up when I got back.

Seasoned some boneless chicken thighs with salt, pepper and cayenne and threw on a really hot grill for a few minutes to get a nice char with some spicy sausage, I used Czech Stop's ( hot sausage, but I suppose any andouille sausage would do.  Sauteed some chopped onion, green pepper and a clove of garlic in olive oil until it was soft, and then added the chicken and sausage to it, along with a can of San Marzano tomatoes, a little worcestershire sauce, a bunch of Crystal hot sauce, a couple of bay leaves, some hot paprika, marjoram and thyme and let that cook a few minutes before adding a cup of rice and a couple of cups of homemade chicken stock.  Let it simmer for a while after that until the rice was done, then put a lid on it until it was time to eat.

Served it with crusty french bread and a whole lot more crystal.  Damn good.