Monday, April 18, 2011

Supporting MS150 Austin

Fun times...

Thanks again to all those who supported me in supporting my friend Tony Luong in his fundraising and physical contributions to finding a cure for those with MS!

Jerome Vielman & Jennifer Yi
Karen Keplinger & Greg Stowers
Quoc D
Denyse Burgard & Family
Baby Drew Kim
Ty Smith
Chris Kim & Esther Hwang
Steve Lee
Soo Jung Kim
Daniel & Rebecca Kim
Anonymous O
Anonymous M

Y'all are THE BEST!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Goodbye, Hello

Had a moment on the road seeing a Touareg for the first time since switching out my Volkswagon for my new awesome, eco-hip Prius. Felt like my soul was saying, them were some good times, but it's a new day now and a new life...goodbye old life...sadness, tear.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Queen Vic Pub + Kitchen (Upper Kirby)

I read of a new pub called Queen Vic Pub + Kitchen (same owners as Oporto) and put it down in my to do list some time ago but just never got around to it.  Recently, I ran into a friend named Charlie at Sonoma, who mentions the pub, bringing it to the top of my list.  He didn't say much about the place, just that he was there a few days ago.  Men!  They're just not descriptive at all.  So today, I'm coordinating with Ryan on a new place to visit and though I didn't think Queen Vic would be the coolest place, I more or less just considered it an option because it was new and not too expensive.  I called my girlfriend Syndi who had nothing but great things to say, so that was it! That was where we were heading.

While parking, immediately, I can tell I'm going to like the place.  There is valet, but I chose to park the next block down and really enjoyed my walk in. The most beautiful oak trees are set up around the pub.  I walk in and my first thought was wow!  Definitely not what I was expecting.  It was a combination of vintage and traditional.  Dark colors, perfectly lit recessed lighting, lots of people, and just great atmosphere.  I got there about 7pm and it was pretty busy.  It did start to die down in a couple of hours, which was much better, calm atmosphere.  They have 14 beers on tap, that I've not heard of, mostly, ie. "Bombshell Blonde".  But then again, I'm not a beer connoisseur.

It takes a little while to order as they're super busy.  We take notice of all the liquor they have.  An entire shelf designated to the good stuff, cognac, whiskey, etc.  They have the regular stuff, but the top shelves were very unfamiliar liquors.

I'm just taking notice of the decor, which I love.  I think this is my new favorite place!  Ryan says he's surprised I liked it so much because he doesn't figure me for trendy.  I like trendy if it's got a really nice atmosphere.  But still, I didn't think QV was trendy, more vintage trendy and I love vintage decor.  It is fairly small, not as small as Oporto, but it's super cozy.  I really really like the decor and atmosphere.  Great for small groups or groups of two.

It's just so cute and perfect.  It's cozy, just big enough.  A little more crowded than I like my hangouts to be, but it was a really diverse crowd.  I want to say the median age was probably 40s.  Business crowd, mostly.

The wine by the glass selections were pretty minimal.  It looked like they had maybe 7 or so to choose from for all Reds.  I ordered the 2007, Rule, Cab, which I really liked for it's full body, dryness, and wasn't bitter.  Ryan liked it too so he ordered one after his beer.  His third round he got the Bombshell Blonde, which I thought was good.  It was light and had a fairly clean finish.  Between the alcohol, liquor, wine, beer there are tons of selections.

I thought it was photo worthy to shoot the fact that their menu had a curry section.  Then we realized the connection between British and India, ahhhh.  The gm says they get a lot of Indians because of the food.  I look over and there is one big table of Indians.  I just think that's so cool, how their cultures are so mixed.

We got the only pizza they had on the menu.  The mix of cheese and basil and just enough sauce was nice, not too much.  The crust was so good.

Ryan didn't like the pizza so much, he thought it was ok.  He thinks Kenneally's Pub's pizza is much much better.  Kenneally's pizza is good for sure, but I like QV better for the overall experience, and since I'm more about overall experience.

We also got the short rib samosas.  Pretty good, but at the end of the day it is bar food.

For dessert we got the Triffle, I think it was called.  Doesn't it look so grocery store?  I kind of liked it.  It's basically super light whipped cream, strawberries and spongecake with sprinkles on top.  I thought the top part of it was really good because of the distribution of cream and strawberries and it tasted light.  Once you get to the bottom it's pretty dry because of the lack of whip cream.

My overall experience was really great.  I really liked Queen Vic's if you couldn't already tell from me stating it so often.  For the atmosphere mostly.  It's a really fun environment, really pretty to look at and gives me happy vibes.  It's a little busier than I like my hangouts, but the food, the environment, wine and spirits selections are pretty good.  We chatted with the gm, he's really nice and friendly.  A lot of my photos didn't come out very good because of the lack of flash.  He gave me his card and said he'd send me some photos.  That's so nice of him.  Seriously, this is my new favorite wine bar for 2011!  Go check it out!

Kobe Burger at Mockingbird Bistro

I have been really looking forward to trying the Kobe burger after reading an article about it.  It's been on my to do list for a few months.  So, I was really excited about lunch today with Kevin (Mortgage) and Yen (Branch Manager) from BBVA Compass.

I've been here once before long ago and remember enjoying the food.  I read recently, you can now sit outside and sure enough, there is a small patio set up in front.  Interior is nice and rich colors.  Very ornate, decorative, and kingly.

It's a pretty restaurant, for sure.  I should have taken a shot of the front, but I'm sure most folks have seen it.  It's a very charming building, brick, vines, nestled on an interior street.  Not a great lunch spot, but defintely a fantastic dinner spot.

The bread shown here, brought out with olive oil mixed with basil, though good was brought out awhile after our entree.  Not a huge deal, just a passing thought...

Our Kobe burgers were brought out by 3 servers at the same time, following each other, looked very impressive.  They looked like they were heading to serve someone very important.  Great presentation, steam off the burger.  I mixed a bit of this tangy mayo concotion and placed the greens and onions in the burger, took a, so flavorful.  Hate to overhype, so defintely recommending you to go and try it.  Didn't even use the ketchup, except for the fries.  There was so much flavor and it was so juicy...goodNASS!

The fries tasted amazing, they were really good, a different kind of crispy and perfectly salted with a hint of some kind of herbs, maybe.  I may be overthinking it.  One complaint, the fries look all right in this photo, but really they were in little pieces.  I expect more from MBB.  I hate to seem so picky, but the truth is, they shouldn't send something out like this for a restaurant of this caliber.  Just slightly disappointed...maybe a 1 on a 10 scale.  I mentioned it to the manager and he said, oh that they must've gotten the last bit of the fries and of course switched them out.  Anyways, not a big deal considering how amazing the burger was. 

We had a conversation about Kobe beef.  I wasn't quite sure why it had such a great reputation and why it's so stinking expensive.  I had my first Kobe beef at Bradly Ogden some years ago.  1 oz, which is the size of a sashimi sized piece of fish, was $40!!  For a meal consisting of 4 pieces of Kobe beef, it cost $160!  My lunchmates said the reason why Kobe beef is so expensive is because they feed the cow beer and massage it.  That's why it's so soft...interesting, didn't know that.

When it comes to fine dining, I definitely expect more.  If I were at Onion Creek, I wouldn't notice service or food as much because I know what I'm getting into.  For Mockingbird Bistro, I expect great service and for most of it, it was.  Anyways, definitely a good experience, overall food was great, service was good.  You have to go and try the Kobe burger, it's absolutely on my list of top burgers in Houston!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Like Owner, Like Dog

At starbucks off of West Gray, I think to myself...they say a dog tends to take after it's owner...ain't that the truth.  :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

El Real Tex Mex on Westheimer/Montrose

New by the same owners of Reef, Stella Stola, and Little Bigs.  I heard about El Real from a new client and an investor in the group.  Sharp fella and straight shooter.  Since he mentioned their soft opening, I had El Real on my to do list.

I drop off my lease, Touareg, today at Volkswagen and have Jonathan Sosa (VW Momentum Sales) take me home, but make a stop off at El Real for lunch.  Side note, Jonathan was always friendly with my dogs while I dropped off my car for maintenance reasons. So I've known of him since I purchased my Touareg, but when my lease was coming up, he coincidentally answered the phone.  He put me in a few cars to test drive and it was so nice of him.  I think I had the Tiguan for a few days, as well as the Jetta.  It's where I fell in love with bluetooth!  Anyways, if you're looking to buy a Volkswagon, he really is awesome.  He's not salesy, is honest and really listens. Also, he brought me a red velvet cupcake from Sugarbaby's, which is not my favorite cupcake shop, but the red velvet was so cute and soooo good!  And hello...anybody that brings you cupcakes is awesome!  Ok, before this turns into a blog about Volkswagon, back to this new tex mex dive.  This building used to be the old tower theater.  It's not the most visually appealing design, is it?  Looks more like a 99 cent super store  or something.

I like the interior, but again, not very Mexican.  I like a traditional Tex Mex looking joint.  It's not bad though, I like all the space and depth.  There's space on this side, some over here, some over there.  It's not just a big open room like this photo.  The cool thing is they have old movies running.  I think they're Mexican movies or something, not sure.  Mostly business crowd and a good size.  My favorite thing is strung lights, gives off a festive feel, which you see in this photo.

You walk through the restaurant and if you want to sit outside, you end up out here.  It's a beautiful day so this is where we're sitting today.

Here we are sitting outside.  It's a gorgeous day, but it is getting hot, low 80s.  I'm appreciating the shade right now. 

We're facing Westheimer and though it's a great location and great for car watching, the business across the street isn't very nice to look at.  I'm sure that will change soon.

I once heard from a nutrionist that 1 chip is 1 gram of fat.  Even though I know this, it really doesn't change my eating of the chips and as much as I do.  The chips were pretty standard, the salsa I liked because it was warm and substantive.  I kept asking Jonathan if he tasted a soapy flavor.  He said no, said he was trying to see it, but no, he doesn't.  Later we discovered, walking into the restaurant, it smelled soapy.  He thinks it's the chips, maybe it is.  I liked it anyways and we had a second basket.

Jonathan got the taco al carbon.  I have the hardest time saying that dish.  My tongue just doesn't roll right from the "al" to the "carbon".  Those words just aren't right.  Also, with his dish came a tamale, which he wasn't expecting and referred to as a "plus".  I forgot to ask him how his tamale was.  The taco al carbon, he said was really good and that the fajita meat was..."dare I say comparable to El Tiempo?".  I tasted it, while it did have a good beef fajita flavor, I think El Tiempo's beef fajitas are better.  It's much more juicier and more mouth is watering just thinking about it.

I love chicken enchiladas.  Before I found it, I didn't like Tex Mex so much.  The chicken enchiladas here were okay.  I thought the corn tortillas were a little too hard.  The chicken inside was fine, nothing to blog about.  I asked for the black beans instead of the refried and our server had to ask the kitchen if they could do the substitute...really?  I wasn't expecting it to be refried black beans, so on his return I asked him if they were as bad as the regular refried beans.  He asked the kitchen and said they said no because it doesn't use animal products.  It's made with olive oil.  Really?  I don't know why I find that hard to believe.  I didn't eat very much of it, just in case.  But, it was definitely good...nice and pasty...with a nice black bean taste.

I think this is a great use of this space.  I can't even remember what was going on here just before.  As far as I can remember, nothing really has flourished here.  But, I like that it's a Tex Mex restaurant, decent to good food, it's central and super spacious, with outside seating...under shade, cause we all know how hot it can get in Houston.  Although I like the spot, like the idea, it's not my favorite Mexican restaurant.  Definitely worth a visit and I'll have to try something else next my motto is...give it 3 trys before you say adios!