Dave

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Weather Report: Time for a few more Gigs!!


I know this is pretty silly, but my wife and I got a giggle out of the fact that during Bill Taylor's weather report on KENS-5 TV, the computer on the screen suddenly needed more memory.

I'm sure they could send Joe Reinagle over to Best Buy or someplace to pick up a few Gigs of ram.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Great Northwest Watch Report: Dinner and Meeting

My wife and I attended the meeting of the Great Northwest Watch this evening and enjoyed a nice dinner provided by Grady's before the meeting started. You can never go wrong with Grady's as far as I'm concerned.

I took just a few notes worth passing along but I think they are important things to consider as we see an increased incidence of mischievous behavior in the area, primarily in the form of graffiti.

Chief Roger Burton of the GNW Security "Courtesy Patrol" as one resident pointed out, presented two winners of the National Night Out event. These residents held parties that had the most participation, and they were given gifts from great sponsors as a result. Ms. Betty Hood (who is the NNO coordinator for the GNW) had the biggest party attendance, and she received free Sea World passes. The second largest party was held by the Garza Family, and they received a check for $50. from Jefferson State Bank. It is always nice to see the local merchants come through in support of the community.

Chief Burton introduced us to SAFFE Officer Robles who gave us a brief update on the graffiti situation and on ways to combat the problem. He mentioned the importance of victims of this crime to immediately paint over or clean up the graffiti within 24 hours, and to do so every time it occurs. Equally important, he suggests that if you have a privacy fence in an area prone to graffiti, the best bet is to simply paint the entire fence, then, when the taggers do their "art work" you can cover it in the matching color of the fence. This looks better and definitely beats the appearance of an off color patch of paint on a nice wooded fence. If you get tagged, report it. Take pictures of it, and if you see the little bastards, try to figure out who they are or at least where the live. Surely you have an idea of the kids who roam up and down your street - don't you?

Next Officer Atkinson from SAPD gave some explanations about police response times, what they can and can't do and some information on ways citizens can get involved.

I was very interested in what Officer Atkinson had to say as my neighbors and I have talked often specifically about the graffiti issue at Oscar Perez Memorial Park. I have been a proponent of calling city hall and complaining that we need more attention paid to these little son's of bitches and their artwork. But Atkinson gave some pretty interesting and sobering statistics.

When he joined the SAPD force in 1987, there were roughly 2,000 officers. He said it was common for a dispatcher to report that they had three or four calls on hold and asking if any officer could respond. That is, several people who had called 9-11 to report a crime had to sit and wait while officers responded to higher priority calls. So, if you reported a theft or something, you were going to have to wait until more urgent matters were handled, then the police could get to you.

In 2007, the SAPD has, according to Officer Atkinson, about fifty more officers on the force, yet the city has grown by about 350,000 residents. Further, he said it is not unheard of for the dispatcher to report that they have fifty calls in the queue. Now imagine if you call in to 9-11 and report that some snotty little Rembrandt has tagged your fence. Guess where you are in that queue of 50 compared to people who have real crimes like stolen cars, robbery, dope deals gone bad and Senators trolling for perverts in the airport restroom.

To give you some perspective, the City of Dallas has 3,400 police officers yet they have 200,000 less residents than the city of San Antonio. ((I know, a lot of people think Dallas is a lot bigger, but the DFW Metroplex has multiple police forces))

I can only assume that Officer Atkinson was making a plea, and he is right to do so, for us residents to call upon Ms. Sheryl Scully and our city council to hire more officers, but I took away a more important point that he was making; when it comes to non-life threatening, nuisance crimes such as vandalism, tagging and disturbances (loud music and barking dogs), calling 9-11 is just creating a larger queue. Where we as residents can help ourselves and help the police and city help us, is to call the right people for the right crime.

San Antonio has an incredible 311 system which my wife and I use regularly. If it has anything to do with the city services that you pay for via your tax dollars, you can learn more about or report through by simply calling 311. They also have a web site here that has loads of information. If we can avoid having granny call the police every time a dead squirrel ends up squished on the street in front of her house, perhaps we can free up the police to help in more important endeavors.

What I also took from Officer Atkinson's talk was that we as citizens can and should do more. They have a few programs he outlined, specifically Cellular on Patrol (COP) and Citizens Police Academy. In both these classes, you learn what is important to notice, what is important to call the police for, what you should not call the police for etc etc. I don't think anybody is suggesting that we take up arms and take to the streets to do battle with the 14-year-olds who lack parental supervision; though at one point during the meeting, I did suggest we find the little hooligans and whip their asses, (even if my wife was outraged at my suggestion). I think the officers are suggesting that we can and should be more vigilant in our communities.

And what is wrong with that? How many of us could use a walk in the evening, just around the block? Why not take note of who belongs on your street and who doesn't, and why not kick their ass if they don't belong there?

So anyway, back to the meeting...

Let me leave you with a few thoughts, especially if you are one of the few readers that live in the area. You should really know that the GNW Watch meetings are a treat. Chief Burton is a very capable speaker with a down to earth southern drawl and an ability to communicate his message of safety and security. With PowerPoint slides of maps of the neighborhood, he shows where different calls to the "Courtesy Patrol" originate, which streets are problem areas, and every so often, details of the call. I especially enjoyed the highlight of a major theft reported to him - the loss of a trash can lid.

One area we may need a little work on though, is understanding what you should not do at meetings of this nature; give little anecdotal reports about your particular street or neighbors. In other words, raising your hand during the question and answer session of a neighborhood-wide meeting to report that you think the neighbor kid plays the stereo too loud is not an appropriate use of the time*.

* Suffice it to say, I'm being very diplomatic here: I could write an hour's worth of questions or "reports" that if people are worried about, they should contact security, 311, or their congressman via e-mail or the phone, but not prolong the meeting because they have a captive audience.

Developers Advice Update: A New Church...

You may recall back in mid-July, I offered free advice to developers on two locations where they could make some big bucks. Well, I have an update on one of the locations.

At the corner of Timber Path and Grissom where you have Stacy's Sports Bar on one side and Speedway Sports Bar on the other, I have learned that a church of some sort has purchased the large end part of the building that used to be Coyote's. My suggestion was a Peter Piper Pizza, but I guess a church will do. A lady standing out front did tell me the name of the church, something to do with flowing river or something like that, but I couldn't catch it and she was on a cell call so I didn't want to bother her.

I think this church will make a great addition to the strip center, but I hope that a year from now, they don't forget that they purchased property in between two heavily used bars and in front of a graffiti filled skate park. I wish them luck in their mission.

I still don't have a lock on the other location. I had suggested a Starbucks in front of HEB at the corner of Tezel/Grissom/Culebra, but whatever it is going to be, has not posted a sign or permits. I drove by this morning with the intention of asking a worker, but there was no workers, just a fresh slab.

If you know what the business is, tell me about it - my wife is dying to know!

UPDATE: Reader Rick e-mailed me to advise that he stopped and asked workers who were laying the slab shown here, and they say it is going to be a Chase Bank. Sorry Starbucks fans. Nobody ever takes my advice!

UPDATE2: Reader Gus reports that he was told that the guys laying the slab were putting in a Wells Fargo Bank! Do you suppose the construction workers are trying to mess with us all? At this rate, it just may end up being a Starbucks!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Arby's Report: The Ol' Bait & Switch...

I enjoy the food at Arby's but to be honest, they are simply overpriced for what you get. So, because I'm a cheapskate, I rarely even consider stopping there. I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten at Arby's in the last five years, and with the exception of today, the other times have been because I was with a group of people who all agreed on eating there and I have no problem with eating some place that I wouldn't otherwise choose, if it makes other people happy.

Okay, so this afternoon, my wife presents me with some sort of flier from the newspaper or the mail or something that has this big Arby's special where for $5.95, you get to choose five items from the list of meal items. So you could get five sandwiches, and it would be $5.95. Or you could select two orders of curley fries, two sandwiches and a drink, and it would $5.95. Or you could get three shakes, and two pies, and you'd be one fat bastard. But you get the point.

In our case, we had this bright idea of getting one Arby's melt, one ham melt, one order of curly fries to share and two shakes. All for $5.95.
So we walk in and the place is fairly quiet, very clean, and the guy at the register was very quick to come take our order. I didn't even notice what my wife was talking about when she asked the guy why the flier we received in the mail had a different price than what they had on the counter. He politely informed her that it was a typo and she said, "Oh, good!"

Then when he rang up the total, it came out to $7.51 or something like that, and my wife looked at me and asked how the tax could be over a dollar fifty for a $6.00 meal.

By now, I just wanted to eat and I rattled off something about the guy saying it was a typo or whatever, but now my wife was concerned that other people would be more demanding than we are and want to pay the $5.95 instead of the $6.95. Though I frankly couldn't have cared less about the dollar rip-off, I soon wolfed down my extra tiny roast beef sammich and then it occurred to me that I never eat at Arby's precisely because they are too expensive. And now these son's of bitches trick me into their store with the ol' bait and switch?

My wife started to hand me the keys thinking I was going to run out to the truck and grab the flier and demand satisfaction. I could see she was excited, thinking about what lawyer-like words of smoothness I would use on the friendly guy at the counter, how I was going to come down firm yet respectful, in a matter of fact but non-accusatory manner; to the point that he would probably give us free roast beef or ham and cheese (our choice of course) for a year. Hell, they were bound to throw in a case of Horsey Sauce for good measure!

But I finished my shake, took the tray full of food wrappers and napkins to the trash can and bid the folks behind the counter a good evening. The fact that I was standing around the lobby taking pictures of everything pretty much had the manager peeking from behind the food bins trying to figure out if he was about to find himself in the middle of a food inspection or something.

That was worth a buck.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weather Report: Something is in the Air

I can tell you without hesitation that we are approaching a very brief time of the year that I love. I am no fan of cold weather, I dislike the heavy winds, and though I can tolerate the heat like most other Texans, I accept an air conditioned vehicle and home as the norm. So when I set foot out on my back deck this morning to let the dogs wander around a bit, I was pleasantly surprised at the nice breeze sending a hint of a chill across my wife's recently tiled patio.

Of course, the sun would rise soon and it wouldn't matter to me because I would be inside my windowless, air conditioned office before any real heat got going, but aside from that, it was nice,and I could feel the movement of the air and all the pleasurable smells and excitement that brings.

I should also tell you that I was feeling some severe pain to the left eye. It might have been from an errant elbow thrown by my wife sometime during the night as she tossed and turned in response to my constant moving from side to side. We both were suffering from what the people at WOAI-TV reported to be an outbreak of Sinusitis and Pink Eye. We couldn't be happy with one outbreak in our house, we had to catch every current ailment making the rounds.

I thought of making an appointment to have my eye looked at but to be honest, I figured the Internet could find a cure for me. When I went to shower, I cleared out some disturbing goo which had hardened overnight, and suddenly, felt a lot better than I looked.

By the time I was at work and looking on the Internet for my next move, it was clear that what I needed was some coffee and a nice cold compress on my left eye.

I overheard several other people in the break area discuss their sinus and allergy problems and one guy suggested that this was all a result of the heavy rains we sustained over the last month. The theory was that the rain had caused an advanced growth of unnamed spores while the lack of sunshine to heat up the area failed to kill them off sufficiently. The result, my wife's sinus problem and my pink eye.

That was all I needed to know. No doctor visit needed.

And this evening as I walked the dogs out onto the back patio and the sun started to set, I could feel the cool breeze roll in and literally snatch the pink from my eye and carry it off to some unsuspecting neighbor enjoying the cool breeze during the nicest part of the year on his patio.

Sorry about that, neighbor.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Downtown Report: The Buckhorn Saloon & Museum

I can't count the number of times I have driven down Houston Street and passed the Buckhorn Saloon and thought of going in but never did. So today, my wife saw a billboard for the place and being the free spirits that we are, I typed the address into the Garmin and off we went.

Just a quick note about parking downtown. I think it sucks that people want you to pay between $7 and $10 to park downtown. So, it being Sunday, I drove around the block and parked on the street in front of a parking meter. No cost and when we returned an hour later, no vandalism!

About the Buckhorn Saloon. I have to say it was pretty cool what with all the stuffed dead animals all over the place. But at the bottom of the little brochure for the place, it says "41,000 sq.ft. of Excitement!" Really?

Oh sure, there are some stuffed oddities in the place. A two headed calf, some no kidding shrunken heads and a huge 400 pound greeter with a 10 gallon hat and a six-shooter on his hip, eager to get us to the ticket booth for entry. If I sound like I was less than "excited" by the place, please allow me to put things into perspective. It cost us $25.00 to get in to see the excitement. I know it costs money to pay people and keep all the horns dusted and such, but seriously, $12.00 per person?

Oh, if we had paid an extra $4 or $5 each, we could have also had admission to the Texas Ranger Museum. I've been to the one in Waco, is there more stuff?

Okay, having complained about parking and the price, I will tell you that there are lots of things to see. They have a section for stuffed fish with lots of impressive catches. Another section is dedicated to birds, and another to all creatures Asian. Several deer, lions, bobcats, moose, bears of all sorts, huge snakes and other well mounted critters. There are displays of older things like old guns and whiskey bottles and posters showing advertisements for the Topperwein's, some fancy shooters back in the day.
They have a stuffed Teddy Roosevelt who seems rather short to me, but then again, in some older movies, Tom Cruise appears to be 6 feet tall, so maybe I just assumed the leader of the Rough Riders was taller.

They did have this incredible wood carving made by some guy in the far east. It is so incredibly intricate you have to wonder how it was done without cutting the wood into sections. It is truly amazing. Maybe that was worth $12.00.Along with all the interesting (still hesitant to use the term excitement) artifacts
on display, they had a stuffed wallaby, complete with pouch waiting for a stuffed kid to jump into. That was a site.
In the end, we made a second trip through the little gift shop and I have to admit, they did have a lot of cool souvenirs - especially if you are a fan of beer or Texas. Lots of cool cookbooks and books about Texas and such. As we were starting to leave, we noticed that the rotund cowboy who greeted us when we arrived had now been replaced by a much thinner Wild Bill look alike. I had visions of seeing him let loose with a stream of obscenities like they did in the old days in Deadwood but instead, he was just a nice guy who was all to happy to pose with my wife.
Wanna take your kids to see some stuffed animals for free? Head up to Cabelas in Buda. Want to send your kids in to see the stuffed animals while you and your wife sit in the handsome bar and get liquored up? The Buckhorn Saloon is your place.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hashknife on the Chisholm Update

I know to some of you this may come across as being a bit obsessive about a place to grab some food, but I think I have somewhat of a breakthrough on the location of the best barbeque I have had in recent memory, Hashknife on the Chisholm.

My daughter is making the trip from Wichita Falls down to San Antonio this weekend and as my wife was talking to her via cellular technology, she mentioned that she was getting close to Mineral Wells. I quickly alerted her to be on the lookout for the barbecue place we enjoyed so much and reported about here and here. Unfortunately, I told her literally minutes too late because when I looked up the name of a company she mentioned on Google Maps, it was obvious she had already passed the place.

But, that gave me an idea. The big mystery has been that this little BBQ place has no presence, other than this Blog, on the Internet. Using the Hybrid feature on Google Maps, I followed 281 north up from where my daughter was in Mineral Wells until I found a place that matched the features I recall. An intersection that was a 4-way-stop with two stores on the same side of 281 but nothing on the other corners.

To give you an idea of where I'm talking about in relation to Mineral Wells, here is an overview of the area. The big circle is the place where the BBQ place is.

So, once I got to the intersection on the map, I did a search on variations of BBQ and Restaurant etc with no luck. So then, I remembered that the business on the other corner was a gas station, so I typed Gas into the "Find Business" tab. Turns out that G's Gas and Groceries shares a corner, and further, G's has a phone number. So, I called them.

Now this can be sort of tricky because if I said the wrong thing, the lady who answered could have sent me on a wild goose chase. My main concern was that the barbeque place may be a fierce competitor of sorts. But, what the heck. So a very nice country-sounding lady answers and I explain that I'm calling from San Antonio and such, and the whole business about not being able to find any reference to this barbeque place on the internet. She indulged me for a few seconds which was nice of her, then she said, "Yep, that's the place right across the street from me." Bingo! She said they had been in business about a year - which may explain the lack of any advertising.

I had hoped that she might have an address or a phone number, but I think she decided that perhaps I was a telemarketer or Hillary Supporter or something, because that was pretty much all she would confirm. I thanked her for her time and wished her a fine evening.

So now, what we know is that G's Gas and Groceries is at 8161 North Highway 281 in the unincorporated town of Peadenville in Palo Pinto County, TX. So, I'm guessing that Hashknife on the Chisholm is going to have an address of something like 8000 or maybe even 7950 or something like that - who knows really, but the good news is, when my daughter gets home, I'm going to plug in the address to G's Groceries into her Garmin so she'll be able to get a good chipped beef
barbeque sandwich when she returns to Wichita Falls.

You know, I could probably just call 1411 on my cell phone and ask for a listing, but I want to keep this mystery going for a little longer. I have faith in the Internet and I trust one of you people out there will say, "Hey, doesn't Bob own the Hashknife on the Chisholm? I wonder if he knows that some dumbass on the Internet likes his
barbeque?"

So there you have it. An update on lunch from a few months ago.

Friday Report: A Few Notes...

So, I need only post a picture and you know the drill. Chili's House Salad with Ranch, a bowl of the Terlingua Chili, and some unsweetened Iced Tea. The trick is that you have to get there by 5PM on a Friday or you will be waiting in line. Don't make that mistake unless you are a glutton for punishment.

After that, we ran into the HEB right next door to grab a few needed supplies (some limes and lemons for the ribs I'm cooking tomorrow) and my wife decided to try an Eco-Friendly approach to shopping by purchasing one of these canvas shopping bags. What a great idea. Now, if we could only train ourselves to bring it with us the next time we go shopping.

Finally, somebody has to know the story on this guy. I have seen him drive up and down Culebra for several years. The top of the truck is full of lights and antenna's (or antenni I guess) and it has some warning about staying back. When I first started seeing this guy, he had even more information plastered on the back window of the camper - stuff about having cameras mounted so as to be able to get the license plates of tailgater's and warnings about calling a direct line to the police if you dare tailgate him. Hey, nobody likes road rage, but geeze, could you make yourself a bigger target for some liquored up hick who wants a little trouble?

If you are this guy or know his story, tell me about it. I'm just curious since I see him so often (of course, how can you miss him?).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

4000+ Report: You People Must Be Bored!


I was just doing a quick check of the blog to see if I needed to respond to any urgent complaints (never) and noticed that the little number thing went over 4,000 which shows that the page has been looked at a time or two.

Just so you understand - it does not mean that 4,000 different folks have happened upon the blog about Silver Creek, but that the page has been visited that many times. I assure you that it gets at least twice a day by me, so that ought to put things into perspective.

So, to the half dozen of you who visit for a quick laugh or maybe an update about your neighborhood or city or what I had for lunch the other day, thanks for sharing in my little hobby.

What do you do in your spare time? Tell me about it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dinner Report: Grady's BBQ

Ever since our visit to the Tip Top Cafe last weekend, my wife has been regretting the fact that she had a cheeseburger instead of the signature Chicken Fried Steak. I could tell that she had a hankerin' for it when I noticed a huge pull-out from the newspaper with a life-sized photo of a chicken fried steak, complete with gravy staring up at me on my desk for several days.

This afternoon, she called me at work and asked how quickly I could get home because she could stand it no more; we would have to hit Grady's on Bandera Road pronto, PDQ and then some.

Just a word about Grady's as opposed to Rudy's. I find that people are either Grady's people or Rudy's people. I'm a Grady's person. I get the whole thing about Rudy's - you know, served on butcher paper, a little boat of cream corn, maybe a half pound of this, a half pound of that, half a chicken and some sauce. I get it. I just don't care for it as much as other people seem to.

Don't get me wrong - if someone is having a luncheon there, I'll go and enjoy it. But if there was a Grady's and a Rudy's right next door to each other, I'd be in Grady's.

Of course that might be rude if the luncheon was being held next door in Rudy's, but I think you get the point.

Oh. And I have also found that people who like Rudy's don't usually appreciate the brilliance of Bill Miller's. I'm not about to come out and say that Bill Miller's is the best BBQ ever made, because that would be a joke. But the fact that you can get good, consistent food in a fast-food format is awesome. People who like Grady's seem to appreciate that about Bill Miller's.

If you want some really good BBQ, I'm telling you, you have to head north up 281 beyond Mineral Wells (or there abouts - I haven't been able to find any reference to this place on the Internet to confirm the address or town) called Hashknife on the Chisholm. That, my friends, is some good eats.

So, my wife ordered up the chicken fried steak with corn and mashed potatoes. She was so excited she nearly did a jig! - I'm kidding, honey, really. Grady's gets you in the eatin' mood when you walk in. They give you your tea, point you in the direction of all the fixin's like onions and pickles and such, and just about the time you sit down, here it comes.

I ordered up the catfish along with some green beans coleslaw and an onion ring or two. I have to tell you, I love me some catfish and as a general rule, Clear Spring Catfish Cafe between New Braunfels and Seguin is wonderful although the one in San Antonio at Afton Oaks is not bad either. But if you can't make it there, the breading on the catfish at Grady's is done just right for me. Not too crisp so as to make me chip a tooth, but not too soft wear it falls off the fish before you can take a second bite.

I have to report, I wolfed down my green beans, took a bite of slaw, then couldn't hold back anymore and unleashed myself on the fish. My wife made several attempts at offering me a bite of her chicken fried steak, but seriously, I was in an embarrassing frenzy of consumption and had she stuck a fork full of the golden brown delight in my general direction, she may have lost a finger or two.

Grady's gets a solid 3.5 TT's on my Tasty Treat Scale, only lowered because my green beans contained foreign objects - corn I believe. That is UNSAT my friends. Never ruin good green beans with corn. But the catfish was a solid 5 TTs! Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm.

For those concerned, I promptly came home, swapped into my gym clothes and hit the treadmill for a suitable period of time. And I did not throw-up once!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Look Report: The Old Pearl Brewery...

This past weekend while my wife and I were driving around downtown, I saw the familiar smokestack of the Pearl Brewery which is quite visible as you come around 281 toward downtown. I had driven by many times but never bothered to actually drive down Grayson Street - which also tells you that I have never been to Nightmare on Grayson.

Anyway, I had read about the fact that the area was being redeveloped and was going to house several new projects, and I'm happy to report that things are coming right along.
As we drove by, it appeared that perhaps the new food school was having an event. Lots of people dressed up in chef clothes were standing out front having pictures made.
We also noticed the Farm to Table Cafe that my wife read about in the paper. I think we may have been under dressed, what with not having any overalls or boots on, so we opted for a different lunch option.
Anyway, I think this little development is yet another reason for people who live here to have a reason to enjoy our downtown. I think we need to have an ad campaign that says something like, San Antonio - it ain't just for tourists or something obvious like that.
If you get the feeling that I enjoy San Antonio and the surrounding areas, you are right.

Oh, two notes about the area. I think that the area in question could appear to some to be pretty seedy, but don't let that stop you from going by there (during the day anyway). I noticed there was quite memorial to TacoLand and the murder of the owner nearby.

The other interesting place right up the street was called the Voo Doo Lounge. Nice. We didn't stop, but I bet you could get a cold beer on a hot day there.

And probably more.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Friendliness Report: HEB Shoppers

Don't let anyone tell you that people in Texas and especially, here in San Antonio are not some of the most helpful and friendly folks.

Why just today, I was filling up at the HEB on Guilbeau and Mystic Park and some kind person was helpful enough to make the little Post-it note on the gas pump more user-friendly.

Have a nice day, ya' hear?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lunch Report: Sunday Lunch with my Mother-in-Law

Lest you think that all my wife and I do is go from one eatery to the next, forking out hard earned cash to consume vittles simply for the entertainment of having onlookers observe us as I snap picture after picture, reflecting the before, during and, well, prior to desert portions of our meals, I thought I should let you know that we also enjoy a good home cooked meal from time to time.

So with some excitement this morning, we went along with our Sunday morning activities - me finishing up the lawn that I had started earlier, and my wife reading the paper and doing odds and ends. But we both refrained from grabbing breakfast in anticipation of what was to come around noonish; my mother-in-law would unveil a beautiful brisket, just from the oven as her beans simmered waiting to hit the plates, and the rice would still have steam rising in the air as we would anxiously wait for the next tortilla to come off the griddle.

With stomachs rumbling, we made our way to the smell of goodness, no doubt passing many lessor appreciated Sunday lunches produced by well intentioned mothers-in-law of all types, until we arrived at the source of the brisket coming from the oven, conveniently installed on the back patio to allow heat to remain outside, and to permit jealous neighbors, vagabonds and passers by a fragrant whiff of what was about to end up in my tummy!

Sadly for you dear readers, the Internet does not allow me to convey the beauty of the scent of this magnificent ensemble. A picture and these important words will have to suffice. Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm Mmmm - That was a Tasty Treat!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Lunch Report: Tip Top Cafe...

My wife and I were headed home from the downtown area this afternoon and decided to take a drive through what the Express-News is calling the Deco District. Let's cut to the chase - there are a lot of older homes and buildings and people are buying them up, making them look artsy and they are now calling it the Deco District. Whatever.

But I have to admit, I love it!

I once did some work on a house around there in the Jefferson High School area, just off of Donaldson I think. A nice older home going through a transformation that would include a media room. The people were adding a new bathroom, updating the kitchen, adding the aforementioned media room, and I was thinking, they could build a new house for all the renovation they were doing, but it occurred to me that they just loved the area. And I must say with some jealousy, that I like it too.

Anyway, lunch is what we are here to discuss and for years, I have listened to people rave about the awesome vittles at De Wese's Tip Top Cafe on Fredericksburg Road, and was embarrassed to admit that after all these years, I had never been. So, today as we traveled through the Deco District, I aimed the Garmin for Tip Top and this is what we found.

When they say that they have been around since 1938, I would ask if they have any intentions of updating before 2038. Make no mistake, the place is old and the the interior reflects that. Not so much in a bad way, but everything about Tip Top says, "Old diner".

When we first walked up to the door, an older couple was coming out. The man said to me, "Good luck in finding a place to sit." I tend to take that as a good sign. It says to me a few things about a restaurant. First, it says there must be good food, or the place wouldn't be so popular. Second thing though, it tells me there must be good service. Because even if the food is good, people are not going to come back and fill the place if the service is crappy.

When we got inside, I saw another possibility. The place is freakin' small! People were packed in like sardines. I actually told my wife we should leave and try it another time, but when she saw the plates of goodness coming out of the kitchen, she was ready for whatever wait there would be. And in the end, there was no wait. Two parties in front of us took seats and the nice gentleman directing traffic pointed toward another few open tables so we jumped right into the sea of hungry people and began to adjust to what comes across as some sort of hunting lodge or perhaps a creepy uncle's basement, filled with stuffed and mounted deer, fish and assorted roadkill. There is a wall of older newspaper clippings and some old photographs, perhaps of the owners or former employees.

The menu contains quite a selection of en trees, sandwiches and fried treats, and as we looked around like vultures at what other patrons had ordered, it was tough to really not want to try a little of everything. My wife mentioned chicken fried steak several times but finally decided to try a cheeseburger. I went for the corned beef on rye and selected the potato salad instead of fries.

I wrote about the huge stack of onion rings we saw at the Red Robin a while back, and Tip Top had their own version. Piled up on a plate like a small mountain, these rings were reminiscent of the style and texture we enjoy from Clear Springs Catfish Cafe. When our order arrived, my wife mentioned that they would probably go good with tarter sauce. What they definitely needed was salt! No complaints, mind you; I ate my fair share and more.
My wife was immediately pleased with her cheeseburger. The patty looked as though it came from fresh ground beef, not a frozen patty. The bun had that look to it like it had been steamed or grilled or something, to give off a glow of butter. I'd show you a picture, but the picture I took didn't come out. But, it looked like a good, homemade burger. In the grand scheme of things, my wife reports that it was good, not great. The patty had no real taste to it that would make it stand out amongst other great burgers we have tried. So, I'm not saying don't order it, but you'd probably best ask for some mayo, mustard and some extra salt.

My corned beef on rye was awesome! I would have liked fore the bread to have been toasted, but the fact that it wasn't didn't create any disappointment. My wife questioned me about, just what corned beef was, and to be honest, I didn't have the Internet with me, so I really didn't have a good answer. But you can learn all about it here.

I was especially pleased with the potato salad. It was very creamy and not bitter in any way. I could have gone for another scoop had I not made a pig of myself on the onion rings.

Our service was outstanding. Our waitress, a very pleasant woman of perhaps 90, looked exactly like Bill Parcells - but smaller boobs. As I said earlier, the place was packed but the people working here were pumping out food and getting orders to the guests fairly rapidly. I'm guessing they've handled a lunch rush or two.

Okay, a few things to consider before bringing your sancha her for your first weekaversary dinner. Tip Top is a cafe and and old one at that. There is nothing remotely romantic about it, unless you have a thing for former Cowboys coaches.

You should also know that this place is still in the last century, complete with outdoor facilities. Yes, my wife went to take a short visit to the ladies' only to find herself wandering around in a back parking lot waiting on the single-holer.

The other thing you should know is that they do not accept credit/debit cards, though you can write a check if you need. Don't worry, the prices aren't high - our lunch came out to less than $14.00 before tip - but really, who doesn't take plastic? The answer is a place that has the bathrooms out in the alley.

Bottomline: Good eats. If I had come up with a little logo for my "Tasty Treat" scale, I'd have to give this one 3 1/2 TT's on a scale of 5, but I'd probably get my order to go next time. The most important thing though is that now, when people talk about Tip Top over on Fred Road, I can nod approvingly without feeling like I'm faking it.

Shopping Report: Habitat Home Center

Since I have been in Bob Vila mode, I thought you may be interested in knowing about the Habitat Home Center over on Probandt. My wife and I were chatting with our good neighbors Gus & Ruby last evening, and they mentioned to us that the HHC has different lines of furniture for sale, so we thought we'd go have a look.

I have been to this store as well as the companion store over on Walzem. Both places are great for people looking to do home projects without breaking the bank. If you need a door or windows or a new counter top, they may have just the size you need at a very reasonable price. When I was doing some work with my brother-in-law rehabbing rental properties, we often came up with our paint schemes based upon what colors were available at the HHC.

The beauty of it is, the proceeds of the items they sale at the home center go right back into the bigger Habitat for Humanity program. You don't have to like Jimmy Carter to think that's a good idea.

So, anyway, we took a look at the type of dining room table my wife has been thinking about. It is a taller table with taller chairs almost as if you were sitting at a bar. The table is square when you put the leaf in, so you can seat six people. I like this idea too, but honestly, the one they had that fit our size requirement just did not seem, uh, well... sturdy. My wife was convinced that they just had not tightened the floor model, but looking at the construction underneath, I was just not satisfied it would hold up to a Thanksgiving Turkey.

So we moved on and looked at all the other good stuff they had - the building materials. Though you get the impression that this is almost flea market like, the fact is that they have things very organized and they have lots of stuff.

Okay, so here are a few pictures of the things you need to fix up your house:
Have you been thinking about building yourself one of those fancy mailboxes guaranteed to keep Gramma and her walker off the sidewalk? You can't beat bricks at 30 cents each.
Got a teenage movie starlet or "Lil' Paris" running around your house? You need some lighting to help them see all the oil running from their pores. Buy about twenty or so.
Have you ever wondered why your house doesn't make it to the cover of Better Homes and Gardens? The answer is simple - you don't have some of these cement architectural structure thingys. A little duct tape and some spackling, and people will think your double-wide had a make-over by Ty Pennington.
Looking for a new cutting board? This might be a little heavy.

You know, everywhere throughout the HHC, they have these little signs that say things like, "Smile - you are on camera" or "We video tape everything" and such. So, I was thinking, if you worked in the surveillance department, how many video tapes do you have of some dipshit like me taking a seat and asking his wife for the TP. Thankfully, my wife was able to snap a picture before any arrests were made.

In the end (certainly, no pun intended) we bought a few room carpets (new, not used) to go over our saltillo tile.


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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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