Archive for category He Said…She Said

He Said, She Said: Georgia’s Farm to Market

Monthly Feature

Good Times at Georgia's

Mondays are dedicated to restaurant reviews.  This week, you get two opinions for the price of one. Time for another He Said, She Said for Carrie and me.  But we’re changing things up!
Here’s how it works:

  • We went to the same Houston-area restaurant at different times.
  • It’s our first time eating at the restaurant.
  • We read no previous reviews.
  • We write our reviews separately. UPDATE : One person writes the review, the other person reacts to what was written.

Atmosphere: (3) Star

Brief Take: Georgia’s is primarily a market specializing in natural foods, including organic, often local produce as well as a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan products.  Bulk spices, grains and teas are available.  That being said, it is unlikely that you will be wow-ed by the atmosphere.  Nestled in the back corner of the market, the café offers breakfast and lunch buffets 7 days a week.  It feels as though you’ve turned back time to a simpler, slower life.  An employee comes around to each table with a cart offering a wide variety of hot teas steeped in individual pots for each customer. Simple wooden tables and chairs…nothing fancy.  But there is something appealing about being surrounded by fresh, wholesome ingredients.  The ambiance is bumped up a notch on the weekends when there is live music from 11:30 to 1.

The React: I’ve never seen anything like this place–a makeshift restaurant buried in a health food market!  Carrie’s right, nothing fancy, but it all works for me, and there is something very appealing about being surrounded by fresh produce.  Think I just had a light bulb moment.  We caught the live music.  Jack Johnson he was not, but it did add a nice touch of mellowness.

Menu Selection: (4) Stars

Brief Take: I don’t really know how to rate this, as there is no menu selection.  You choose from the soup and salad buffet or the buffet that includes the hot menu items.  However, if we rate this category based upon the # of items in the buffet, the salad buffet gets a 5, the hot buffet gets a 3…so I guess we’ll call it a 4.  Both buffets include fresh bread, drinks (tea, hot or iced, or lemonade), and dessert.

The React: I couldn’t agree more with this assessment.  So,  I won’t write anymore.

Pricing: (4) Stars

Brief Take: Soup and salad buffet:  $8.50; soup, salad, and hot entrees buffet:  $11.00.  Considering the freshness and variety, the price is well worth it.

The React: We got there at 10:30 on a Saturday, that’s like the absolute worst time to hit any buffet.  There were obviously switching things over.  At that moment, I wouldn’t have eaten there for free.  But they got it together, and I would agree that the pricing was adequate.

Taste: (3.5) Stars

Brief Take: The salad bar is definitely the star of this show.  I dare say it is the best salad bar I’ve seen.  All of the typical players were available…6 kinds of greens, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.  But, the unique items such as freshly grated garlic and ginger, flax seed, fresh cilantro and mint, beets, jicama, and pumpkin seeds (just to name a few) were plentiful.  Prepared salads (pasta, tuna, chicken) were also available.  The tuna salad with apples and pecans was delicious, as was the chicken and pasta salads.  Skip the tuna pasta salad…it lacked flavor and with all of the other options, there is no need to fill up on mediocre choices.  The fruit portion of the salad bar, while not as extensive, was also noteworthy.  Unlike most salad bars, there were several unusual options…not just variations on melon.  Papaya, pineapple, apples, and watermelon and several other choices were accompanied by plain and strawberry yogurt.  The hot buffet items of the day were brown rice, vegetarian chili, steamed broccoli, fresh corn, shrimp with vegetables, chicken primavera, and lemon pepper bass.  The rice, broccoli and corn were as advertised.  Nothing special, but cooked well with a little crunch left in the broccoli and no crunch to the rice.  The vegetarian chili had a nice spicy kick to it.  Unfortunately, the shrimp with vegetables and chicken primavera felt like real buffet food.  Overcooked and underseasoned..  The bass was the surprise of the day.  While I thought it, too, would suffer from buffet syndrome, it was unexpectedly tender and juicy with good flavor.  The dessert options were carrot cake or chocolate cake.  Not bad flavor-wise, but a little dried out from sitting out in individual portions.  In other words, don’t bother saving room for dessert…have another plate of salad.

The React: Most everything was fresh, but under seasoned.  No problem with that–it’s why they invented a salt shaker. I agree that you should probably skip the tuna pasta salad…pretty ho hum. Do not skip the sweet chicken salad!  I put some on toasted wheat bread and topped it with cole slaw–awesome!  In fact, the best thing I had on the entire buffet.  My biggest surprise was the vegetarian chili.  What was referred to as “textured protein” looked AND tasted like ground meat.  I too tried both the carrot and chocolate cakes, not bad for a buffet, but I caught mine right when they came out.

Service: (4) Stars

Brief Take: Again, the buffet style does not lend itself well to rating the service; however, everyone that we encountered in Georgia’s was friendly and helpful.  It was a little intimidating since we didn’t know how it worked (there are no cashiers at the café; you pay at the front of the store), but the staff quickly set us straight.

The React: Well said Carrie, couldn’t agree more.

Overall Opinion: (4) Stars

Summary: OK, so Georgia’s isn’t going to be a five star dining experience, but this place does what it does well.  Honestly, next time I would probably just go for the soup and that amazing salad.  Even if you’re not into the café offerings, it is worth the drive to Georgia’s just to do some wholesome shopping.

The React: I agree for the most part, although I rarely refer to salad as amazing and will hold off in this case as well  This place is unique and worth checking out.  I’ve never seen anything like it, and I applaud the owners for their unique concept.  I’d go back to Georgia’s.

http://georgiasmarket.com/

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He Said, She Said: Giacomo’s

Monthly Feature
It’s near the end of the month…and guess what’s due…another He Said, She Said for Carrie and me.

Here’s how it works:

  • We went to the same Houston-area restaurant at different times.
  • It’s our first time eating at the restaurant.
  • We read no previous reviews.
  • We write our reviews separately.
  • Once written, the reviews are not changed.

Giacomo’s
3215 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77098
http://www.giacomosciboevino.com/

He Said Atmosphere: (5) Star
Beautiful, bright colors abound. Giacomo’s had a hip, modern feel—while maintaining some old-school charm. I did take-out and was enamoured with the products available for purchase at the front of the restaurant. I loved the open kitchen, side bar, gelato counter, and chalkboard menu.

She Said Atmosphere: (4) Stars
Comfortable is the best way to describe the atmosphere at Giacomo’s. Bright, casual and simply decorated interior. Chalkboards with the menu and extensive wine offerings line several walls, but these items are also listed on a printed menu (take note, Café Rabelais). Nice outdoor patio, but since it faces Westheimer, it could be noisy.

He Said Menu Selection: (5) Stars
Giacomo’s switches things up with a counter, food fast, and slow menu. I liked the concept, if for nothing else, it was different. I was a little short on time so I went with the food fast menu. Excellent selection of pastas, salads, sandwiches, and wines.

She Said Menu Selection: (4) Stars
Lots of options organized by the amount of time you have to wait…I like the concept! Counter items include antipasto dishes, soups, sandwiches and crostinis, “food fast” includes meat and cheese plates, salads, and a variety of pastas, while the “slow food” adds main course proteins, such as chicken, pork, rainbow trout and steak. Extensive wine list.

He Said Taste:
(5) Stars
I got an order of the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, Tagliatelle Giovanni, and a lemon tart—and drove home fast. The smells in the car drove me crazy. Getting take-out was a true test. Could the food withstand the lag time and still hold its quality? The answer was yes. Sara ate the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, but I had a bite…awesome. It was well seasoned and I loved the flat noodles. My dish (Giovanni) was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in Houston. Creamy, but not too heavy—the chicken was moist and flavorful, and the veggies were nothing short of perfection. The brussel sprouts, sweet red peppers, and cauliflower stood out. Again, Giacomo’s use of flat noodles was a great choice. The lemon tart was, for lack of a better adjective, lemony. That’s a compliment.

She Said Taste:
(3) Stars
I ordered the Gamberi Piccanti, described as “spicy shrimp salad in toasted baguette” and a house salad to go. Concerned that my sandwich may loose some of its appeal by the time I got home, I opened the container for a bite in the parking lot. Bad move. While the flavor of the shrimp was deliciously spicy, my sandwich was swimming in an unappealing pool of oil which proceeded to run down my arms, sending me digging for a napkin, tissue, baby’s burp cloth…anything to sop up the thick oily mess. The benefit? My steering wheel won’t need Armor All for the next six months. Once home, I could really delve into my dish. The baguette on which my oily shrimp were served was chewy and delicious. As you can imagine the bottom slice was soggy, but still…delish. The potato salad, which was in the same take out container as the sandwich, was also tainted by the dreaded oil. Regardless, the flavor of the potato salad was not really my thing. I’m more an American potato salad traditionalist and this caper-olive-vinegar version was just a bit too worldly for my liking. However, if you like a Mediterranean flavored potato salad this would be right up your alley. My side salad was nothing to write home about, but the shaved fennel on top was nice. I would have liked to try the green goddess dressing, but the vinaigrette was packaged up for me.

He Said Service: (5) Stars
I chatted with the owner Lynette while I waited for my food. She was very friendly, and even offered to get me something to drink while I waited. Nice touch. My food was out in fifteen minutes, packaged well, and ready to be consumed.

She Said Service: (4.5) Stars
Given the fact that I was just taking my food to go, the service was exceptional. The gentleman working the counter offered me a printed menu so that I didn’t have to squint to read the wall version. I was also offered a drink while I waited. I was told the wait would be about seven minutes and I don’t even think it was that long.

He Said Pricing: (3.5) Stars
The prices were a little high for pasta dishes, between $12-13. But location matter, and you gotta pay the rent…so the relatively high prices came as no shock. I will say that my dish was well worth $13.

She Said Pricing: (3) Stars
Maybe this is typical River Oaks pricing, but $17+ for a 4” sandwich, a little potato salad and a side salad seems a bit steep to me.

He Said Overall Opinion: (5) Stars
I loved Giacomo’s. I am definitely going back and probably ordering the same thing…which I almost never do. It’s hard to imagine that I am looking forward to eating brussel sprouts…but I am.

She Said Overall Opinion: (3.5) Stars
Maybe I just ordered wrong…From the moment I walked in I wanted to love this place. It has a good vibe and the service was above average. But my $10 little shrimp sandwich missed the mark and my expectations led me astray on the potato salad. If I were in the area I may give this place another shot, but I probably wouldn’t make the drive over to the Oaks for another go round.

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He Said, She Said: Shade

Monthly Feature
It’s the end of the month…and guess what’s due…another He Said, She Said for Carrie and me. Here’s how it works:

  • We went to the same Houston-area restaurant at different times.
  • It’s our first time eating at the restaurant.
  • We read no previous reviews.
  • We write our reviews separately.
  • Once written, the reviews are not changed.


Shade

250 W. 19th Street
Houston, TX 77008
http://www.shadeheights.com/

He Said Atmosphere: (5) Star
Ever been to a day spa? Shade has that exact same feel to it. Calm colors throughout, with a beautifully simple décor. Last month’s restaurant felt like I was sitting next to a septic tank. At Shade, it was just the opposite. Very clean. A smallish, granite countertop bar sits towards the front of the restaurant. Ironically, the enormous rectangular windows looking out to 19th Street were my favorite part of Shade’s atmosphere.

She Said
Atmosphere: (4.5) Stars
The pale green exterior and simple signage is carried through to the interior design of Shade. Dark tables, mostly for groups of four, with white linens litter the dining area. The front of the restaurant has a beautiful “bar” area. Large pendulum lights with shades hang throughout creating a calm, romantic atmosphere.

He Said
Menu Selection: (4) Stars
I went for lunch, and I guess the selection could have been bigger…but it certainly didn’t bother me. There was a good number of salads and sandwiches.

She Said Menu Selection: (3.5) Stars
Shade offers a seasonal menu, resulting in a smaller selection. 6 appetizer selections, several salads and soups, and 10 entrees, ranging from a vegetable plate to several types of fish to beef tenderloin. Good wine list and, as an added bonus, they offered Saint Arnold’s Amber for the hubby.

He Said Taste: (5) Stars
Just based on what I ate, Shade is one of my favorite new restaurants (new to me). The food was a complete reflection of the establishment…clean, simple, and good. I ordered the BLT. They cheated a little bit by including fresh mozzarella, but is this really a bad thing? It wasn’t…in fact, it was perfection. The thick cut wheat bread was buttery and toasted …and VERY fresh. This sandwich was a complete work of art. The bacon had that perfect crisp, the lettuce did it’s job, and the heirloom tomatoes were tangy goodness. The sandwich was a decent size as well. It came with a side of napa cabbage slaw and one devilled egg. Note to management…ditch the egg and double up on the slaw. That was some of the best slaw EVER…creamy, just a little sweet, and the red onions and napa cabbage were awesome together.

She Said Taste: (4.5) Stars
One word…delicious! I had the ahi and Warren ordered the lamb. “They” say you eat with your eyes first, and if this is the case, the ahi had me at hello. Beautiful presentation with a tempura shrimp served atop of a bed of colorful stir-fried vegetables (carrots, mushrooms, red onion, scallions) and the ahi perched on a crispy square of jasmine rice. The tuna and the shrimp were both perfectly cooked and combined well with the sweet soy glaze and spicy harissa sauce that were drizzled across the plate. The spicy veggies were cooked well with a little crunch left in them. And, that little rice cake I mentioned? SO good. How can plain old rice made into a cake and crisped on the outside taste so yummy? I don’t know, but it was! The lamb, also well cooked if a tad under seasoned, fanned out on a bed of minted pearl couscous with peas, topped with house-made lamb sausage. The couscous paired well with the lamb, and since I’m not much of a sausage eater, I’ll just have to take Warren’s word for it that it was good. We took an order of coconut cream pie home for dessert. A hazelnut shortbread crust topped with a coconut filling, a huge mound of whipped cream, and toasted coconut…how could it be bad? The crust was amazing and makes me want to try making my own version. My only complaint is that I could have used more coconut filling and less whipped cream, as I would have liked for more coconut-y goodness. The fact that I polished the rest of it off at 6am should tell you how I felt about it.

He Said Service: (5) Stars
The host, in our brief encounter, greeted me like we were longtime friends (and not in a weird way…in a good way). I thought my waitress was very attentive and my food came out in less than ten minutes. I asked her about the name Shade (paraphrasing)…”It’s Houston, you need some Shade.” Right you are my good lady.

She Said Service: (2.5) Stars
To begin, the service was slow (hence our taking dessert to go before our child had a meltdown). While we were seated immediately and served water, our waiter took quite a while with our drink order. After ordering drinks, he turned and walked away, even though we were ready to order our entrees at the same time (we had had plenty of time with the menu!) We were not told of the soup specials and the waiter delivered another table’s appetizers to us. All in all, it left a little something to be desired.

He Said
Pricing: (4) Stars
My iced tea and sandwich plate came to about $14 before tip. For that price, it better be perfect…and it was!

She Said Pricing: (4) Stars
On the pricier side, but after eating, I consider it well worth it. Although we skipped appetizers, the portions being delivered around us were quite generous, as were our entrees. Appetizers $8-$15, Entrees $20-$30, Desserts $8.

He Said Overall Opinion: (5) Stars
I think this is my first five-star restaurant since Carrie and I have been doing this. I know my sample size was limited (I went solo for lunch), but I honestly couldn’t find one flaw with my experience. Maybe the egg, but it’s not like it was bad…it just wasn’t the slaw. Great place! I will definitely go back for lunch and dinner…no doubt!

She Said Overall Opinion: (4.5) Stars
This was one of the best meals I’d eaten out in a while. The bold flavors and beautiful presentation of my ahi far made up for any transgressions in service. And, honestly, the slow service probably wouldn’t have bothered me as much if we didn’t have the kid with us. We’ll definitely be making another trip to Shade without him…I’d like another date with that tuna.

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He Said, She Said: Daniel Wong’s Kitchen

It’s the end of the month…and guess what’s due…another He Said, She Said for Carrie and me. Here’s how it works:

  • We went to the same Houston-area restaurant at different times.
  • It’s our first time eating at the restaurant.
  • We read no previous reviews.
  • We write our reviews separately.
  • Once written, the reviews are not changed.


Daniel Wong’s Kitchen

4566 Bissonnet Street
Bellaire, TX 77401-3102
http://www.danielwongskitchen.info/

He Said Atmosphere: (1) Star
Let’s see…where do I begin? Just walk through the door and you’re blasted in the face with a smell that’s reminiscent of my sixth grade gym locker. That sure does get the stomach growling. Random pieces of art are crookedly hung on the walls. The general look of the restaurant is that of a two-star, 1980’s Florida hotel room. Only reason this place didn’t get zero stars is that I fancied a few pieces of art.

She Said
Atmosphere: (2) Stars
Don’t expect much in terms of atmosphere here. Kind of a strip-mall feel…random artwork, lattice walls…not much to write home about. I was slightly disturbed by the dirty 70’s highchair we were given for the baby and the description my husband gave me of the bathrooms (which are through the kitchen). Enough said.

He Said
Menu Selection: (5) Stars
Very unique ingredients for a Chinese restaurant…crawfish, turkey, lamb, okra….just to name a few. Maybe I’m a bit sheltered, but these are items I’ve rarely, if ever, seen on a Chinese restaurant menu.

She Said Menu Selection: (5) Stars
With 78 dinner items, it’s hard to give Daniel Wong’s anything but 5 stars. And, the website indicates that if your favorite Chinese item is not on the menu, please ask for it. Does it get any better than that?

He Said Taste: (1.5) Stars
We ordered one cup of won ton and corn chowder each. Average…nothing special. We followed that up an order of Garlic Lovers’ Pork, Good Morning to You, and Crispy Hermann Park Duck with Vegetables. There were elements of every dish that were appealing (mostly the vegetables), but every dish as a whole just lacked in certain areas. The chicken in the Good Morning to You was thinly sliced, tender, and very tasty. This dish included whole okra…which I think needed to be cut into pieces. The pork dish was ok, but salty. The Crispy Hermann Park Duck was the real head-scratcher. Beautifully prepped veggies were the star. The duck was awful…tasted as if it was gunned down in Hermann Park and dragged into the restaurant. In all fairness, maybe I’m just not familiar with this type of duck preparation.

She Said Taste: (4) Stars
We started with an order of Crispy Spring Rolls and Crispy Crab Puffs. Yum! Clearly, Daniel Wong’s has their grease at precisely the right temperature. Spring rolls and crab puffs were crispy, as advertised, and not at all greasy. The menu stated that the crab puffs are made with fresh crab and since I could not detect any strange red imitation crab, I’ll believe them. Gotta love that! Following our server’s recommendation, we ordered the #74 (Rib Eye Steak Kew with Fresh Green Beans) and the #75 (Stir Fried “George” Shrimp with Fresh Garlic and Onion). Both were very good. The steak was cut into bite-sized chunks which was a welcomed change from the usual paper-thin steak served in most Chinese dishes. My only complaint was the fat visible on the steak. I will readily admit that this is more of a personal issue, as I generally perform surgery on my meat to eliminate any traces of fat. What did I expect on a rib eye at a Chinese restaurant, right? Anyway, the steak was perfectly cooked and well seasoned, as were the green beans. The shrimp dish was good, but not outstanding. Good flavor, but rather greasy, and because it lacked any veggies (except onion, which really doesn’t count), I felt a little gross after eating it. Regardless, we finished off both entrees for dinner the following night. I love leftovers!

He Said Service: (5) Stars
Great service…nice people…liked the kids.

She Said Service: (4) Stars
Fast, helpful service that passed my two tests – made a recommendation when asked and refilled my drink without being asked. And, oohing and ahhing over the baby didn’t hurt, either.

He Said Pricing: (3) Stars
Maybe a $1 more per entrée than the usual Chinese restaurant, but I attribute that to a more exotic menu.

She Said Pricing: (4.5) Stars
$2.50 for two spring rolls, $3.75 for 6 crab puffs and $13 each for our entrees. Most entrees were$8.50 – $11, but even $13 was good, considering we got two meals out of each one.

He Said Overall Opinion: (2) Stars
Good service and nice elements to certain dishes are not enough to rate this restaurant as even average. Given the wide variety in menu selection, maybe it’s just about ordering the right dish at Daniel Wong’s. Unfortunately, I didn’t do that…and doubt I’ll ever go back.

She Said
Overall Opinion: (4) Stars
Good food, large portions and friendly service make Daniel Wong’s a winning establishment. However, I would probably opt to make this a take out location, as the décor and grimy highchair left me unimpressed.

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