Friday, April 23, 2010

Broken Spoke

Do you remember Cafe Montrose on Westhimer close to Mandell? Yeah, nowhere close to Montrose itself. But I never got a chance to go there to taste the 'real' Belgian food. As a matter of fact, while the restaurant physically is no longer there, the website is still there. Outdated, but there.

As far as I understood it, and disclaimer here, I don't know the situation, but from stories I've read and people I've talked to. The restaurant had to close and the sister and brother duo opened up Jeannine's Bistro down on Bagby and the ex-sister-in-law opened up Broken Spoke. Like I said, I don't claim to know any dirty details, but I know if the food tastes good, I'm more incline to return.

I've tried Jeannine's before the space expansion, it was cold out the food was nice the space was cozy. So, I'll need to return to do a better comparison, but for now, let's talk Belgin at Broken Spoke.

The space was decent, check out their ceiling mural, it was very well drawn and very colorful. I wouldn't exactly say that they'll give the Sistine Chapel a run for their money, but it's definitely unusual for restaurant to have a ceiling that decorative.

The space is not small, they can accommodate big parties like no other and the bar looked pretty stocked to accommodate as well, so don't let the outside discourage you. I would say the parking situation can be discouraging, but check the parking signs all around, you can find street parking just fine.

I will say that if you go during a slow time, such as Saturday midday lunch, the service will be spotty despite that you might be one of 3 customers sitting there for lunch. I didn't feel unwelcomed, but it was slow for sure. The owner did stop by to check on me, but I did have to wait for good 10 mins before someone takes my order. So, slow day = lazy day? Dunno. I wouldn't let that discourage you because I've heard great things from other people that I'm willing to go back for another try. Now, if that doesn't produce a different result, then yes I'll say no, but for now, it's still a yes for me.

If you're any of a Belgin food connoisseur, you'd know that their claim to fame is mussles. Any style you want, they can deliver. The most famous style is the Mariniere, which is nice broth steam mussle to bring out the flavor. Or you can go w/ other types of sauces. I went to curry because I remembered at Jeannine's it went really well w/ the fries when you dip into them.

Anyway, got a lunch order of Curry Mussels w/ fries. I would say it's very no frill on that front. Sauce was tasty but didn't give me much pizzazz. Incidentally, the fries when dipped into the sauce was good, but again didn't shoot me thru the roof. Had I have enough room in my tummy I would definitely get the profiterole, but alas I didn't. Boo :(

If you do go, aside from mussles, they also do alot of savory crepes, I highly recommend you give that a shot. They also have daily specials, so check w/ them to see what's out there.

Broken Spoke
1809 Washington Ave
(713) 863-7029

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No Go on Shimako

So, Monday night after a class over by Wilcrest, I stopped by a sushi bar that I've been curious about. It's Shimako on Westheimer by Dunlavy. The place was of interest to me because it's previous format was a walk-up style sushi place. You literally walk up and pick up the sushi you like and you have few seating for you to eat.

They have sinced moved away from that model, but in the space is much nicer, and chic decor. You walk up, there's 2 small table for outside seating, right by the door is couple more tables, then it's a full bar and the space. The interior space is gorgeous, chic yet upscale kind of feeling. Opposite the bar, at the other end is the sushi bar attached to the kitchen with a very fast working sushi chef.

My experience of the place was disappointing at best. I know it was 9pm on a Monday night, not exactly the prime time of dining hours. However, there were one bartender, one waiter, one sushi chef, and one bus person. When I walked in the waiter was on his cell phone, there were 3 other seated table when I walked in, one of which are filled w/ the waiter's friends. I'm not even going to touch upon the fact that not one single person that works there is Asian. I know I'm playing into the stereotype here, but at a sushi restaurant, the least you have one token Asian person to make you feel like you're eating something Asian. Yes, I'm bias... we'll move on.

So, the bartender seated me, the sushi chef took my order, the bus person got me my water, and the bartender helped me get my check. Yet, the waiter was the only person that should be waiting on me, have not even so much as to say hello. Oh wait, I think he did say hello when I'm ready to pay for my check. Give me a break! You're in the service industry. I was so tempted to not give him any tip and write: here's a tip for you ~ wait on your customer, then give all the tip to the sushi chef & the bartendar. Alas, they have my credit card info, can't very well do that and not expect any reprocussion.

So here's my review to tell you, first sign of an Asian Restaurant, even though you know the kitchen staff are 90% Hispanic, is to have at least one Asian person to run the place. Second sign, is when the one and only waiter is on his cell phone instead of hanging up and greet you, seat you, and get your water. That's a clear sign to stay away, despite the fact that you're hungry and wanted to give the place a chance. Third sign, when the sushi chef takes your order and the waiter still hasn't come by to check if you're ok, or place your order, or ask what was it for the ticket purposes, you should run the other way. Last but not least, if the waiter is sitting w/ his friends and not pay attention that you're ready to leave. You should not return.

I know this is a big rant, I will say that the food was good. There's some faire that I don't usually see at a sushi restaurant, but there's some staples that I don't see there as well. The price is higher than the norm, mind you that strip of Westheimer there's at least 5 sushi restaurant in a 2 miles radius. You're eating the fancy decor they put in along w/ the big flat screen TVs and the satellite cable. Food is not bad at all, but if the price is high and the service is lousy, why go to this place when there are other places that are happy to serve you and take your money on sushi that are good?! Plus, trust me, in this town, we are not shy of sushi restaurants. Lesson learned!

Shimako Sushi Bar
8401 Westheimer Ste 160
Houston, TX 77063