Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad Jim

Yeah, yeah, I know, its been almost 3 weeks. New department is keeping me busy. Its a good busy with really interesting exploration of the cancer genome. This is very cool, its all genetic changes that occur during the progression of cancer.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Last year I spent the 4th in Corpus Christi, it was a lovely gulf-side mini vacation and exploration, since I had never been. This year I did friend maintenance in Dallas. It was about time, it had been over a year since I left and many people had braved the heat and humidity to visit me in Houston.

In conversation with the friends I omitted the fact that I had to be in Dallas before the weekend for work anyway :)

Surprisingly everyone in Dallas is doing quite well. I say surprisingly since the signs of the bad economy are much more obvious in Dallas than in Houston. Big, very visible projects all over town are boarded up mid construction. Expensive townhomes are now mid-level rentals. Whole neighborhoods have for sale signs. Even Highland Park homes are staying on the market over a year; even at a decent price per square foot. I'm so happy I sold and left when I did!

While I still dislike Dallas from almost every perspective, I still have alot of respect for their restaurant scene; its still very innovative! This trip we discovered two new and notables.

2927 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75201

Bolla is the anchor restaurant in the massively renovated Stoneleigh Hotel. For those not knowing, the Stoneleigh is fantastic 1920's hotel in uptown. It's always been an island of character in a sea of post-modern dull that is uptown Dallas. Now its even better, the renovation gives the old hotel a modern feel without compromising its original character.

Stoneleigh Hotel Entrance

Bolla is "new Italian". There are a slew of new Italian in this area of town but Bolla seems to take extra steps in presentation and innovative ingredient combos to set themselves apart. Enter Kalamata Scones with Basil Garlic Butter.

Service is a bit overly attentive. However, this could be a singleton experience since over the 4th there was noone in the restaurant but us. And actually, there was noone in the hotel or even in Uptown Dallas.

Bolla Interior

Bolla Lighting

Screen Door
1722 Routh St # 132
Dallas, TX 75201-2503
(214) 720-9111

Anchoring the north end of the Dallas Arts District is a new mixed-use structure known as 1 Arts Plaza. This is home to Southland Corp on the lower floors and the insanely wealthy on the top floors. Units in this building go for a unbelievably ridiculous $770 a square foot. Yes, higher than Manhattan.

Lobby@ 1Arts

The retail entering the ground floor is quite nice, Screen Door being one of the culinary entries. Screen Door is eccentric Southern. I say eccentric because they take standard Southern recipes and do things to them that are odd and unexpected. Take for example the Shrimp and Grits. This is a stellar dish. Its what you might be expecting, except the grits are more the consistency of firm mashed potatoes, perhaps mixed with an innocous white cheese. It comes together well and presents as creamy, toothy and delicious. The accompanying sauce is based from the New Orleans holy trinity of onion-pepper-carrots but with a spicy kick that adds a much needed dimension to the creamy texture of the grits.

Carrot cake is another standard that has been renovated. The cake part is cut into large circles which are glazed in a ginger syrup; they form a cookie of sorts with a cinnamon laced cream cheese middle. The 2 squiggles of sauce were Raspberry-Currant and Double-Vanilla. Had I not been driving back home I would have ordered one of my own rather than stealing bites from my friend.

All in all it was a good visit. While I still dislike Dallas I was very happy to catch up with my Dallas friends.

Also, I dont care what people say Houston it is not as brutal in the summer as Dallas. We might be more humid but at least at the end of the day you dont feel like a well-done rotisserie chicken.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009


One of my co-workers has an unusual pet. A beaver. Yes, a beaver. A wood-chewing, dam-building, long-tailed, big-toothed beaver. In fact, the Beaver-girl is the only person in the state of Texas licensed to have a beaver as a pet. As you can imagine Beaver-girl cannot in any way, shape or form talk about her pet without a tidal-wave of Beaver jokes. She even sometimes goes on the offensive and tells her own Beaver jokes as a way to diffuse the obvious.

That said, when I discovered there was a restaurant in Houston named Beavers, well, it was a foregone conclusion that we would have an outing!

Beaver's is a BBQ joint. But its upscale BBQ; BBQ with style, not to mention BBQ with options for vegetarians. I liked Beaver's alot, particularly their Beaver Nut Burger, a meatless burger made out of brown rice and cashews, which quite frankly was more weighty and filling that some real meat burgers I've had.

The fried pickles were amazing. Oddly, these are not fried pickle chips, they are fried pickle spears. BIG fried pickle spears. I liked the spicy ranch like sauce that kept the pickles company.

We watched the two guys next two us gasp in amazement as their Shrimp and Oyster Poboys were delivered. I swear this Poboy was bigger than a watermelon and spilling over with huge fried shrimp. The Poboy was served on a plate, no, platter, that was crammed to capacity with the restaurant's signature smoky chips and coleslaw. Apparently moderation is not the theme in Beaver-land.

Beaver-girl was quite pleased with the experience. In fact, she had a brief conversation with the manager about her beaver and it seems like her beaver might be making a special public appearance sometime soon.

I'll be sure to post some pics of that, should there be a beaver sighting :)

Beaver-girl @ Beaver's via Blackberry

2310 Decatur St
Houston, TX 77007-7519
(713) 864-2328

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