Monday, May 25, 2009

Rohmer's, German, Muenster-TX

Last visit: April 2009

If there's a food type that the RJG thinks should be more popular it's German food. Wandering throughout Central Europe in the late 80's and early 90's, the RJG was constantly gorging on the multitude of sausages from the various street vendors, as well as devouring variations on the wienerschnitzel theme at the restaurants. With beer and fries of course. All within the backpackers budget. Yet here in America, German food seems verboten - perhaps a long lasting ban from the WW II nightmare. Personally I think German food is an untapped market. Same with low cost / Brasserie style French food. Any multi-millionaire restaurant veterans out there that want to help me prove my theory?

Here in the DFW area, German food options are slim. We love Kuby's near SMU, a place we are certain to write about eventually. There are others of course, including the cornball institution Edelweiss in Ft. Worth - the very embodiment of why German probably isn't more popular.

Which leads us to hit the trail in search of German food. Of course the natural thing to do is head south, and visit the beautiful Hill Country and its long established German tradition, especially in places like Fredericksburg. But that would be too easy. How about somewhere north towards Oklahoma? (incidentally Mr. Music recently informed us that there are lots of German settlements in southern Oklahoma). Muenster is the last reminder of a large Catholic German migration in Northern Texas. And the town, despite being just a wide place in the road, has maintained its German character. Especially during festival time in late April. Life revolves around the beautiful Catholic church in the center of town.

It's only a little over an hour drive from NE Tarrant, so the wife and I are making a point to visit more often (we've only been twice). To date, we've only tried Rohmer's, which impressed us enough on our debut visit to try it again. THIS is the way wienerschnitzel is to be made. Crispy and lightly seasoned. If a restaurant is dumping a heavy sweet gravy on top, they are ruining a perfectly good dish. I also like that you can get chicken (hochen) schnitzel as an alternative to pork. Pan fried potatoes - yum. And of course, the sausages are wonderful - guessing they come from the local German grocer. Oh, and a good German Paulaner to wash it down with.

The outside has a German look, but the inside feels more like an American Coffee shop. And if you look around, the place clearly doubles as both a German restaurant and a local gathering spot to get coffee, eggs and bacon. They also have Mexican food. Oh, and we love the ancient 1960s era sign outside.

Muenster is about 10 minutes west of Gainesville on Hwy 82.

On the way back, consider driving the pretty backroads, and making a stop at the Weinhof Winery in Forestburg (FM 455). Go west on Hwy 82 from Muenster to Saint Jo (an interesting little place itself with a winery north of town as well) and take FM 677 south.


Rohmer's Restaurant & Catering on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Burger Box, Hamburgers, Richland Hills-TX

The Burger Box is one of those local/regional chains that have no web presence, no continuity and seemingly no Raison d'ĂȘtre. They could be a front for illegal arms dealings to Iran for all I know. I suppose I could inquire about a franchise, but would guys in trench coats start following me?

But exist they do - and from what I can gather, they have a multitude of locations on this side of the Great Divide (DFW airport). A non substantiated survey displays four NE Tarrant locations: North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Bedford and Euless. I've been only to the Richland Hills location, conveniently located near Northeast Mall (on Glenview/Pipeline, other side of the 121/820 bridge). I'm no regular visitor, probably only been a handful of times since we moved here in 2003. My handy database shows my last visit, prior to yesterdays, as January of 2005. But I should go here more often. Because it's a good hamburger. A DARN good hamburger actually.

These are fry cook burgers, nicely seasoned, with fresh lettuce, toasty bun and lots of gooey cheese. It's a fast food hamburger, no doubt. I'm most reminded of Griff's actually, another floating chain without an anchor. I didn't get the fries this go round, the Mrs. is out of town and I prefer to eat only a few of them, and don't remember what they're like. I'm guessing very good. They also serve Blue Bell Ice Cream, and make hand scooped shakes. I also noticed they have crunchy tacos. That's a throwback to another era. I need to try those next time!

Most Burger Box's look like renovated old Dairy Queens, an example of urban renewal done the right way. They're painted in a garish red and white checkered pattern, that I find highly appealing in a retro sort of way. They even have black and white photos of old movie stars lining the walls. None are signed of course, ala the old style Italian restaurants, but someone did their research here.

I just added this location to Urbanspoon, but many of their others were listed already.

Burger Box on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2009

***CLOSED *** Nipa's Kitchen, Thai, Haltom City-TX

Last visit: May 2009

December 2013 update: And now Thai Orchid has shut their, thus closing the book on this location for now.
May 2013 update: Apparently Nipa's Kitchen has been closed since early 2011, and was replaced by Thai Orchid. This latter restaurant just went under new ownership in May of 2013, but kept the Thai Orchid name. Like Nipa's Thai Orchid is run by Laotians, which is a little different than traditional Thai. It was pretty good, though I doubt we'll go back.

Original review

Now this is a hole in the wall. The real deal. A Regular Joe's Guide special if there ever was one. In a dilapidated old strip center, sits the not so quaint Nipa's. Not a romantic date restaurant that's for sure. But certainly one of the best Thai restaurants in the area, second to only Bangkok Cuisine for Haltom City.

That's right, exactly the type of place to grab a quick lunch. With prices to match the ambiance. The savings definitely go into the cooking. Even for folks on hard times, Nipa's Kitchen is about as cheap as making your own food from the grocery store. I doubt I need to mention it's BYOB. And portions are just right, not the massive amounts we've come to expect.

We've tried both the stir fried basil chicken and the spicy fried rice, both utterly delicious. And very spicy, just as we asked for. No going through the "you really want it that spicy?" ritual that grows so tiresome. Fine - you want it hot, go for it they say. Besides, not too many yuppies who don't know any better would find this place on any account.

They also run the Magic Springroll Thai restaurant in Watauga, which matches the ambiance, if not the food quality.

For those that are still with me, presumably most of my regular readers, you'll find Nipa's Kitchen on Broadway, west of Haltom and east of Beach.

Cash only (duh).

Nipa's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 11, 2009

*** CLOSED *** Baker Bros American Deli, Sandwiches, Southlake-TX

Southlake location is now closed. Still open in the DFW area though.

New review here

In what would seem an overcrowded food type, Baker Bros have somehow carved out a niche for themselves.

Baker Bros is a local sandwich chain with corporate ambitions. After opening a handful of area restaurants (Southlake is their 4th location), they began to franchise aggressively and were poised to breakout in 2007. Then came the economic slowdown, a couple of closings, and now Baker Bros is surviving in Texas quite well, but only maintain five locations in other states.

I've only been to the Southlake and Las Colinas locales, but my first impression is the same: How can they make money in these places just on soups and sandwiches? They are cavernous palaces, where the rent alone would seem to sink any possible profitable business. Yet, the Southlake location continues to exist, perhaps even thrive, though I'm not privy to a peek of the books.

Well, then Mr. RJG, are the sandwiches at least good? You betcha! They're very good, and I kick myself for not thinking of Baker Bros more often when in the mood for a sandwich (that is better than what I make at home that is). They have a wide variety of different combinations, and I noticed that each location features different varieties. But the Sicilian, South Beach and Kentucky Club are a few of my favorites. One of their key flavor distinctions is the type bread they use, which varies by sandwich. The wife likes their soups and will usually go for a soup / salad combo. She recently tried the individual pizza (cheese and tomato) and gave the thumbs up. I miss the Green Bay Brat, not sure if they still carry it at any of their locations.

It's a bit pricey (gotta pay for the rent somehow), but not terribly so when compared to the serious markups of a Quizno's for example.

Currently there are 13 Texas locations, including 8 DFW (one NE Tarrant - Southlake). You'll also find one location each in Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, and 2 in South Carolina. The Southlake location is on Southlake Blvd, in the same shopping center as Anamia's.


The Urbanspoon name designation for the Southlake store isn't correct, but it's easy to find in any case.

Baker Brothers Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thai Riverside, Thai, Grapevine-TX

Last visit: August 2014

Rating: Buy

July 2014 update: Welcome back Thai Riverside! They are now on their 4th owner (including Thai Rice as mentioned below), and dare I say this is the finest yet. It had been 3 years since we last visited Thai Riverside, and we we very impressed. They understand terms like "Thai style", which surprisingly not all, or even most, Thai restaurants seem to get. We'll be adding this back to our "Thai rotation" which also includes Sea Siam (Keller), Bangkok Cuisine (Haltom City), and Sweet Basil (Hurst).

Original review

We first started frequenting Thai Riverside when the place was known as Thai Rice, sometime in the 2003-2004 era. New ownership brought improvements including an interior spruce-up, an upgraded menu and new flavors. On this visit, our first in nearly two years, we learned that Thai Riverside again has changed owners. Not so many alterations this time around, exceptions being a new menu and a handful of new recipes, though the owner assured us that most everything was "the same".

That's unfortunate, since as you may have gathered from the "first visit in two years" comment, Thai Riverside isn't one of NE Tarrant's finest. Nor is it near the bottom either but somewhere in the middle. That is to say, Thai Riverside is a "serviceable" Thai restaurant.

On this visit we sampled the Chicken Satay for an appetizer, and for entrees we had the Cashew Chicken and Chicken Basil. All of it was good, not nothing captured the imagination.

Thai Riverside is in an area that has a dearth of Thai restaurants, and is the best offering for miles around. Much better than the overpriced and overexotic Thai Chili in the nearby Southlake Town Square. If you live in the area, and have the means, I'd suggest driving to Sea Siam in Keller or Sweet Basil in Hurst. But if pressed for time, and craving Thai food, I would more than recommend Thai Riverside for to-go orders. And the interior is pleasantly decorated with mood lighting, to ensure a nice dining experience as well.

Thai Riverside is located on Northwest Highway, just east of TX-114. It's buried in a strip center (on the Park Blvd street side). BTW, the Google Map is wrong, and has Thai Riverside way east closer to the Gaylord. Just take TX-114 to Southlake Blvd/Wall. Go straight through the light, and make a right at the next light (Northwest Highway). Make a left at the first light (Park) and left into the shopping center.


Thai Riverside on Urbanspoon