Dave

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lunch Report: Longhorn at 1604 and I-10...

Last weekend when my wife and I dropped in to The Shops at La Cantera, we had planned to kill two birds with one Stone and try out the vittles at Longhorn Steakhouse (not to be confused with Longhorn Cafe just up the road). We got there and found the wait time to be upwards of an hour, and of course, that just doesn't work for me, not when there are so many other good places to eat. We ended up eating at Grady's which I know some of you don't care for, but I'm a huge fan of the catfish and the tea!
Anyway, the point of all this is that like we do when we hit TRH or Chili's, we must learn to phone ahead with Longhorn. We decided (in spite of us both feeling a little yucky due to the cold weather) to get out of the house and give Longhorn another shot, but we didn't call ahead like we should have. This time, the wait was supposed to be something like 35 to 40 minutes and we went ahead and stuck it out.
As we waited, we thought about sitting in the bar but figured since we didn't want to eat in there, we'd leave the space free for those that could use them. The bar looks very nice by the way. Anyway, within the bar area, there was a table large enough for a family of 6 or 8 but they had a couple with a young child seated there. My wife initially thought it was two tables pushed together and commented that they could have separated the tables and seated someone else but then we noticed that it was all one table.
How do you feel about people just randomly sitting themselves and their kids at your table while you are eating? I suspect that is very European or maybe even very Mayberry, USA, but I just can't see myself doing it. But sure enough, this large family came in, got their name on the waiting list then promptly sat down several of their group at the table (of course, leaving an open chair between the original diners and themselves) and then crowded around them, essentially taking over the space as the people tried to eat their meal. In the picture on the left, you can actually see the father of the original people assigned to the table with his child next to him. The rest of those folks, are all the people waiting for 45 minutes to get their own table.

Am I making a huge deal out of nothing? I mean, I've been to restaurants where you are seated on long tables with other guests and that is the norm. In fact, when we went to Hofbrau Beer Garden in PCB, we were seated at a table with another family. But when you go to a place and it is understood that you have waited to be seated at a specific table, is it okay for some other group (without the assistance of the Host or Hostess) to butt in? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments section.
Okay, on to the food at Longhorn. When our waiter came out to get our drink order, he asked if we had been to Longhorn before. We joked about the fact that we had been just last weekend but didn't stay. He gave us the rundown on the menu and suggested a new menu item they are testing called the Bacon Crusted Sirloin. He brought our teas and a nice warm hunk of bread that was extremely wonderful.
My wife saw a picture of an appetizer called the Wild West Shrimp and thought it might be nice to try. From the picture, we expected it to be on the smallish side, so figured why not. It turned out to be a huge serving, easily enough for 5 or 6 people (as an appetizer). Be warned. Oh, and the shrimp was just awesome. The green things in there were some form of pickled pepper. Along with the dipping sauce, the peppers made for a wonderful combination and we immediately wondered about a to-go box for the rest of our lunch.
Our lunch came with the standard house salad. It was good, served with fresh croutons but in all honesty, it was no better than most, and not as good as TRH, but no complaints here. Seriously, you could get the salad and that Wild West Shrimp appetizer for two folks and call it a day.
We both went with the Bacon Crusted 6oz sirloin steak and loaded baked potato. The bacon is actually crumbled and spread across the top of the steak. A great idea in theory, but for me, the conflict in texture was weird, and I just scraped the bacon off. My wife liked it that way. Take note of the potato. I can't even tell you how it taste since it went strait into the to-go container. But appearance wise, I miss the little speckles of salt you get at TRH. Aside from that, it is a fine looking baked potato. Perhaps I'll eat it later this evening!
I cut mine in half to get a picture of the inside of the steak. I love it when people are willing to serve a steak the way you want it. I am disgusted by anything beyond "medium", and this was served just as I ordered. Kudos! The steak it self was very good. While I would not order this particular version again (because of the bacon texture issue) the 6oz was certainly filling and there was no fighting to cut or chew.

Our waiter Robert, it turned out was actually on loan from the Longhorn headquarters in Orlando. He is staying here for a while just to help out with this new restaurant and told us they were building several more here in SA including in Alamo Ranch. Yeah! We gave him several suggested places to try out while he is here.

In terms of appearance, there is nothing special or unique about the inside of the place. My wife did see several Texas related and cowboy-like features in artwork that she liked, but the layout and design could have been the Sizzler. Not to worry. The place was clean, we loved the glasses and the dinnerware and it was comfortable (since nobody came and sat at our table with us). The service we had was outstanding, our food was great and we loved - I mean really, really loved the Wild West Shrimp. Robert also informed us that the dinner menu includes more steak options, but I intend to have the ribs on our next visit.
Be sure to call ahead because you won't want to wait long for the Tasty Treat served up at Longhorn Steakhouse, 1604 and I-10 near Fiesta Texas.

Fan Mail Report: Spicy!

One of the genuine rewards I have received from posting goofy pictures of the things I encounter in my neighborhood and writing about the places my wife and I stuff our faces at is that I have met a lot of really nice people both via e-mail and in person. I love getting comments and e-mails from you folks.

Just this morning, I opened up my inbox and received this heart-felt gem from a fan in India:

hi dave
i love u
i see u google image. i am 31 from india rajesh. i am merried men. i like your face and your body so i mail. i hope utake my invitation. i like older men. i like all with u as your love parner. pl pl meet me i give u all in all night. i hope u give me all your body love. so i wait for u so pl pl contect me because i love u dear

What a lovely offer, but my wife and I find Indian to be a bit spicy for our tastes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

LOST!: Can't Wait!

We watched the replay of the last episode from last season complete with pop-ups the other night and can't wait for the final season of LOST!





But of course, it will be tough to explain a lot of the stuff that needs to close the story.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parking Report: Compact Only, I Guess...

Hey, I have seen some inconsiderate people park their cars like total jerks - take this guy from around Christmas - but today was really weird.
I was walking out of HEB and I saw this SUV pulled up behind a car, parked facing the wrong direction of traffic. At first I thought perhaps the person was waiting in the vehicle, but no, in fact, the vehicle was stopped, engine off, and no driver or passengers in the vehicle at all! WTF?

How do you explain this? Perhaps the driver of the SUV was purposely trying to block in the owner of the white mini-van and a crime spree was being halted. Who knows?

Feel free to leave your version of events in the comments section. Bonus points if the explanation involves la chupacabras, a noise that only your wife can hear, or the Wolf-Girl.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crap on Your Car...

Our area is full of those ugly black birds called Grackles, I think. If you ever go to the HEB near our house around sunset, the place is just covered with them, no doubt making ugly deposits on the roofs and hoods of vehicles exiting the automatic car wash at the HEB gas station.
This evening, my wife and I ran into the What-a-Burger on Grissom and Timber Path where the new bridge is almost open. This will be nice! I only mention this since I took pictures.
Anyway, we went there because I needed to try out that Patty Melt they have been advertising. Excellent as you would expect, but with all the onions on the patty melt, I probably should have skipped the upgrade from fries to onion rings. I'll leave it at that.
But interestingly enough, there were no Grackles at the What-a-Burger. On the other hand, let's hope the guard cats didn't leave any deposits on the roof or hood of this car.

Suspicious Noise Report: I Can't Hear it Either...

I attended my neighborhood watch meeting where we are provided with a listing of the security calls that our staff makes. I read every single report just so I can know what danger lurks out there. You never know when la chupacabras could be in our midst.

I really enjoyed this call, and thought I should share with the group:
1/11/10 @ 2215 Owner called wanted me to stop by his house to listen for a noise that his wife said she was hearing. He told his wife that he did not hear any noise which is the reason why he wanted another set of ears to prove to her there was no noise. I listened for the noise she said she heard but I did not hear the said noise. End report.
I really thought I knew where this one was going; I fully expected some balloons to be involved.

Strange.



Monday, January 25, 2010

Mall Report: The Shops at La Cantera...

I am not a mall person, save for required trips to Ingram Park to see the jewelry people who constantly need to replace the diamonds my wife seems to lose so often. My problem stems around the fact that I love to observe people in their natural element; you would think this would be more of a reason to go to the mall all the time. Instead though, I have something called North Star Mall Syndrome (this is a phrase I coined). For those of you not in San Antonio, you've probably seen the famous huge cowboy boots that rise above NSM. That mall has been a favorite for the upper crust and the wealthy Mexican Nationals who come here to buy up all sorts of expensive things. While I appreciate their support for our economy, I'd prefer they refrain from looking so fabulously rich and slender while doing it.

North Star Mall Syndrome is what happens to regular people like me who go into the mall and suddenly feel under-dressed, overweight, lacking in the latest plastic surgery and awkwardly uncool. I know, I shouldn't care, but I can't help but feel like the beautiful, well-dressed thin, pretty people are looking down upon me, not unlike the way I look down upon the even uglier, fatter, poorly dressed patrons of Ingram Park Mall. I've brought this upon myself. This is Karma; that much I know.
So a few years ago, they built a spiffy new mall on the north side of San Antonio near Fiesta Texas and the La Cantera Golf Resort. The place, The Shops at La Cantera was a shoo-in to be the new North Star Mall, a place for wealthy Mexican Nationals and visitors to come shop, eat and generally be beautiful.

It will come as no shock to you that until this Sunday, I had not stepped a foot on the property, in spite of driving by very often. Sightings of Spurs players are said to be routine, and in fact somebody told me of Eva Longoria purchasing fancy underwear for her husband Tony Parker in front of common shoppers. I suppose stars need underwear too. I just had this idea that you had to get dressed up; slacks, perhaps an open collar, but surely a jacket if I wanted to fit in.
So my wife wants to go into Williams - Sonoma, and the closest one is at The Shops. We go and park without taking advantage of the valet, and start walking around. The first thing I noticed was that the place looked really similar to Pier Park in Panama City Beach. I mean, the layout is almost identical, though more earth tones and less Florida colors.
The second thing I noticed was, the majority of the people we saw looked normal. That is to say, some were thin, many were fat. Most of the people I saw were no better looking than me, of course, I didn't go into the underwear store, so I did not come across Eva Longoria.
The third thing I noticed was, I really, really liked the place. I liked the layout, I liked the well placed resting areas that seemed like little outdoor living rooms for people to relax, and I liked that the place was really clean.
Lots of cool landscaping features made our 45 minute walk around The Shops very enjoyable.
The food court was very spiffy. I loved the big fork and spoon.
Inside, lots of wide open seating and a good selection of places to eat.
All in all, I guess I've been making a mistake by avoiding the place. No, I didn't buy a single thing, but the walk was nice and free.

Oh, and about Williams - Sonoma. Great place to look for kitchen items. But the prices are unbelievable. I didn't take a picture, but they actually were selling a box of cookie mix for $18.00. For $18.00, I want Williams to come to my house and bake the cookies, and I want Sonoma to shovel them down my throat and follow-it up with a glass of milk. Unbelievable. I suspect The Parkers have that for dessert fairly often.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saints Win: Pants Fall...

A winning field goal resulted in the pants of a New Orleans Saints staffer to fall down, thereby exposing his underpants.
Who knew that you could get your underpants customized with lettering; I've only seen the kind with stripes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reporting Meetings Report: No Report...

One of the regulars here asked my wife why it is I no longer provide local readers with my very informative, detailed reports of our homeowner association meetings. Oh sure, it would be a hoot to offer you a perspective of someone actually sitting on the board as opposed to the notes I offered as a regular member of the audience, but really, I think we can all agree (and I'm sure my fellow directors would insist), that would be a big no-can-do.

There is nothing so secret that is going on behind the scenes - in spite of the rumors you may hear, the faxes you get from people supposedly in the know - but the real reason is that the people on the board need to feel confident that they can discuss something with their fellow directors and be on the wrong side of a vote without it making the news.

The good news is that if you are a GNW resident, you can attend the board meetings on the third Thursday of the month and you can even get up and speak. Prior to the start of the meeting last Thursday, we heard from a resident with many relevant concerns for the board and I only wish more of you could have been there to appreciate the comments and the response from the board. There was a very good exchange of information, commentary and facts, and in the end, I think the board and the audience members found a very good common understanding of the challenges we have faced and the direction we are heading. This is a good thing.

I won't bore you with details of the actual board meeting, but I will encourage you to check out the Great Northwest Web Page where you can update yourself on the latest news from our association.

And I do hope you can make it to our next meeting in person.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dinner Report: Five Guys in Westpointe on Highway 151...

Of course we have had the Five Guys discussion here before; first during a trip to Baltimore where I got my first taste, then later in Panama City Beach where my son and I enjoyed the melt in your mouth goodness of Five Guys. And of course, now we have Five Guys very close by on 151 just west of Loop 410.

And it was even my wife's idea to go and try them out, since she had never experienced Five Guys. Somehow, that just didn't come out the way I meant it.
If you know the chain, you'll recognize the sign and the set-up.
Five Guys uses boxes of peanuts to create a walk-way to keep hungry fans in line until it is their turn to order. Not to worry, the process is quick. By the way, I noticed nobody was tossing the peanut shells on the floor which I seemed to recall from other locations. I opted not to be the first.
The inside looks the same. You order, grab a cup to self-serve your drinks and find a place to sit. Before long, they are calling your number and you are increasing the likelihood that you'll end up on the gurney headed for the heart doctor. It's that simple.

Since my wife had never been, the young lady taking our order explained the process. The regular burgers come with two patties and the little burgers come with a single. I promise, if your order the little burger and fires, you will still be stuffed. Anyway, the burger comes dry so to speak, and you tell them what condiments you want on it. So say you want a single bacon cheese burger, you'd say, "I'd like the little bacon cheeseburger with mayo, grilled onions, pickles, mustard, lettuce, tomato, grilled jalapenos, grilled mushrooms and a small bottle of Tums."
In my wife's case, she got the little cheeseburger, mayo, lettuce, pickle, tomato, ketchup and mustard. Just look at how fresh the bun is. And the pickles are so crispy and fresh. The burgers are cooked through but you won't find them overdone. That is a must for me. Rarely does my wife utter the word "Perfect" when describing a burger, but Five Guys won her over.
Do not order the large fries under any circumstances unless you are with a family of five. The regular order of fries is easily enough for two to three people. And, I simply love them.
I went with the bacon cheese burger with mayo, grilled onions, mustard, grilled jalapenos, lettuce, and pickles. Again, the fresh bun, the crispity bacon and the gooey melted cheese is a combo I love, especially when the cook is happy to slather on enough mayo to cause my arteries to look in the Yellow Pages for a cardiologist. I am going to have to limit my intake of this stuff, because I can easily see it being habit forming.
Finally, we have a Five Guys within a short drive from our house. If you have never been, now is your chance to see what they are all about. For what amounts to a fast-food restaurant, Five Guys is an awesomely wonderful Tasty Treat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The HEB Conspiracy: Blueberry Activia...

I hope you won't write me off as a nut here, but seriously, I think HEB is deeply involved in a conspiracy to keep me from eating the blueberry flavored Activia that I like.

Oh, cease with your giggles about Activia and the regular performance it motivates in people. Hell, if you shoveled as many cheeseburgers, tacos and nuggets of catfish down your gullet as I do, you'd probably want at least something healthy in the mix. The fact is though, I like blueberry flavored Activia just for the taste of it.

And this is the problem. Apparently, so does everyone else.

The last several times we have gone to HEB in order for me to purchase my weekly requirement, it turns out they have every flavor but the blueberry Activia prominently displayed. Seriously, who eats prune flavored Activia? Yet, some stockboy is loading up the section normally reserved for the blueberry with the prunes. Ugh!
Thankfully, my wife was able to rummage around the back of the shelves and pull out a four-pack of blueberry. That'll get me through Thursday. C'mon HEB people. Get it together! This could turn into a real situation, if you know what I mean.

About Your Host

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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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