Monday, March 29, 2021

Fun Noodle Bar--Handmade noodles are the draw

Fun Noodle Bar has opened in the former Skeet's location on Southwest Drive and Catclaw across from Wal-Mart.

Spring rolls (one was eaten)
This is an Asian fusion restaurant with all types of dishes. The main selling point is the handmade noodles. The menu is not huge but it does represent a variety of Asian cuisines.

The interior has been re-done and you can see the cooks working in the kitchen. The space is small but service was good. The restaurant was about 3/4 full at 11:30am and they were doing a brisk takeout business as well. 

I ordered Pad Thai with shrimp and my lunch companion had the Yoopo Noodle with beef. We shared some spring rolls for an appetizer. 

Shrimp Pad Thai

The spring rolls were nicely presented cut in half with a dish of sauce in the middle. I found them to be a bit on the doughy side and without enough filling inside so there wasn't much flavor.

The Pad Thai too sweet for my taste though I did appreciate the addition of tofu to dish pleasant. However, didn't care for the bell pepper or purple onion in it. The portion size was generous. Never had that in the dish before. I had to add lots of soy sauce and hot sauce to dampen the sweet. Next time, sushi and some dumplings instead.

Yoopo noodles

The beef Yoopo Noodle dish was a bigger hit with my friend. Plenty of meat in the dish and it was flavorful.

Give them a shot, just wish they had a dish with woon sen (glass, mung bean) noodles as those are my favorite.


Fun Noodle Bar

4325 Southwest Dr, Abilene, TX 7960

325-268-4158

 https://www.facebook.com/FunNoodleBar/

Monday, February 1, 2021

Grain Theory--Craft beer, wine, and coffee with some food to boot

The long awaited space on the northwest corner of Pine and N.2nd is now open. On the second floor is Grain Theory. You can get up to it via an outside staircase on the N. 2nd side or an inside one on Pine. I assume there is an elevator but I did not look for it. Apologies.

I had a business lunch there so I cannot speak to the alcoholic beverages but as you would expect by the name, craft beer is highlighted. Prices are on the "on tap" menu inside. There is also a small list of wines with by the glass prices of $7 or $9. They open at 7:30am so coffee is also featured.

Fish and chips
The food menu is not extensive but that is to be expected since the focus is on the beer. For lunch, I ordered the fish and chips. One of my colleagues ordered the same and the other ordered the grain bowl with bacon added. I am glad bacon was added because otherwise that was too healthy of a lunch. Lol.

There was no table service when we went for lunch. We ordered our food at the bar and it was brought out to us. 

The fish and chips was an entire large Alaskan pollock fish filet beer battered and deep fried. Served with their peri remoulade sauce and another sauce of your choice with thick cut kennebec fries on the side. My second sauce was the spicy goddess which was a mix of ranch, green goddess, and jalapeno. Both sauces had some heat which I liked. No traditional tarter sauce option but if you want mayo there is Duke's mayo available too. The cost of the fish and chips is $14 but the portion size is generous.

I found the fish and chips to be the best I have had in land locked Abilene but my New England born colleague said the fish needed to be cod and the breading was a bit overdone on the outside and underdone on the inside. However, he did agree that is was good compared to Abilene's other fish and chips options. I need to get my British brother-in-law to come to town and give it a try. 

Grain theory bowl

The grain theory bowl was $8 and an extra $3 with bacon added. It is a combination of ancient grains, roasted sweet potatoes, green onion, pecans, cranberries, and sage served with a maple miso vinaigrette. This is a direct quote, "it feels like I could be eating this at a place by the beach in Santa Monica."  Take that as you will but he enjoyed it. This option, sans meat, would be great for vegetarians/vegans. 

Other items on the menu includes sausages, a chicken roll, flat ironed Akaushi flat iron steak, salad,and a few appetizers like the Belgian fries--plain with side sauce or loaded with beer cheese, green onions and bacon or biltong (air-dried beef similar to tender jerky) and pretzel bits.

At this time there was one item on the dessert menu, a coffee stout panna cotta.

The food menu is designed to compliment their beer selections. The day we went the steak ($25) was not on the menu for lunch.

Soft drink options are sparkling water, iced tea or some craft sodas ($2.5).

The space if impressive. They have a wrap around outside seating area on two sides and the interior is metal and wood, a sophisticated industrial look. I have no doubt that Grain Theory will be a popular spot in the evenings and on weekends. It fits right in with the revitalization of downtown Abilene and the increasing focus on dining and nightlife options in town.

 

202 Pine Street, Suite 201, Abilene, Texas, 79601

 (325) 513-6628

Hours--

 Mon-Wed 7:30am-10pm

Thur 7:30am-11pm

Fri-Sat 7:30am-midnight

Sun Closed

https://www.graintheory.beer/





Torchy's Tacos comes to Abilene

Torch's Tacos has finally made it to Abilene. I went with a small group of friends on a Wednesday evening. For those of you who have never been to one, it is a go through the line and order your food type of place. Then they will bring it out to you. Fast casual it the term I believe nowadays. The difference with Torchy's is they also have a full bar as well with a variety of specialty drinks.

Trailer Park (trashy) and Chicken Fajita tacos
The restaurant was quite popular (and probably a bit too crowded by pandemic standards though there were tables blocked off) and there was a large contingent of college students and under 30 folks there that evening. It is a noisy space so if you prefer a quieter dining experience, go at an off time or get take out instead of dining inside.

Now to the tacos. There is quite a variety. Many with creative names. There is also a salad option and a burrito too. The ingredients were fresh. The tacos are in the usual soft taco-sized tortillas.

I ordered a Trailer Park and made it "trashy". Trashy means instead of lettuce it had queso on it. The meat inside was fried chicken with green chili, pico, cheddar jack cheese, poblano sauce (on the side) served in a flour tortilla, though corn is an option as well. The chicken was tasty and I'm always a fan of green chilies. One taco is not likely to fill a person up if you are hungry so the second taco I ordered was a chicken fajita taco--went more traditional. It has grilled onions and bell pepper, pico, cheddar jack cheese and tomatillo sauce on the side. You can have either a flour or a corn tortilla. The chicken was juicy and I did not think it was greasy as though it had been sitting in oil. I was pleased with both tacos.

The vegetarian choice on the menu is a taco with fried avocado. There is not tradition ground beef taco on the menu. Carnitas, shrimp, salmon, barbacoa, brisket, sausage, beef fajita, and Jamaican jerk chicken are all options.

One of my friends ordered the green chili queso. It come with a small dollop of guacamole, a bit of cotija cheese, cilantro and a drizzle of diablo sauce on to top and a basket of thin tortilla chips. It was probably my favorite thing. Very flavorful but not a large serving. I believe it was about $5 for the bowl. The sauces provided with my tacos were quite good.

Probably my biggest issue was the price point. The tacos are quite good but at $4-$5 a piece they are expensive. There are no sides that come with them so if you want beans or rice that is an extra charge. Two tacos will cost about $10.

I am sure I will return but not if I want a big meal.

  

Located on the south end of the Shops of Abilene--

3765 Catclaw Dr. Abilene, TX 79606 

325-480-3380

Hours--

Monday - Thursday 11AM - 8PM

Friday 11AM - 9PM

Saturday 9AM - 10PM

Sunday 9AM - 8PM

https://torchystacos.com/location/abilene/

 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Updated: The Local--Trendy Tacos and Tequila

Morning margarita
UPDATE--Recently a friend and I visited The Local for lunch on a Saturday. I'm happy to report an expanded and more flexible menu, outside dining and brunch made for a lovely experience this time around. Prices are still a bit higher but the presentation and surroundings help to alleviate the issue. Great service as well!
Brunch migas with bacon
 
Original review--

The Local is Abilene's newest downtown restaurant/bar located in the former Busch Jewelers building on Cypress Street between N. 2nd and N. 3rd streets. They specialize in gourmet tacos and high end cocktails ($8 and up). It is great to see downtown Abilene continue to expand and offer more and more options to head down there in the evening.
My friends and I went by on a Thursday evening about two weeks after they opened. We went fairly early at around 5:30pm and were seated immediately but the place soon started to fill (as any new place in Abilene will the first few weeks after opening) and remained popular before the pandemic hit. I ordered chips and salsa for the table. The portion size was not overly generous but the salsa was tasty. The chips were on the stale side. 
Three of us ordered a single taco at an average price of $5 per taco. The fourth ordered a grilled chicken salad. He, by far, made the best choice since a salad is generally not meant to come out hot. The presentation was great but the tacos were tepid. This is a common comment that I heard from others that have eaten at The Local, even several months after opening. However, it did not seem to dim their popularity among the socialites in town.
The two chicken taco versions that were ordered were flavorful but my carne guisada taco was practically inedible. Not only was it lukewarm the meat was so tough I could not chew it. Very disappointing. Plus, I was fairly certain I had ordered the carne asada taco as I generally do not care for gravy on my meat. 

The food was brought out on small metal trays with a paper liner that had old Busch Jeweler ads on it. The nod to the history of the space was a nice touch. The decor is upscale. Lots of glass, metal, with black and amber accents. There is also an upstairs area.
I have been back a couple of times but only to meet friends for drinks and conversation, not to actually order a meal. My recommendation--go by for an adult beverage before or after a downtown event but do not go there hungry.

The Local
250 Cypress St, Abilene, TX 79601
325-232-6463
https://www.thelocalabi.com/


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Grumps Burgers--Patties, Patio, and (free) Peanuts

Dublin sodas
Hello burger fans, there's a new place in town for some hearty burgers. Grumps Burgers is a small chain that has seen a warm welcome in Abilene. It is a stand-in-line, order your food, and they bring it to you, style of place. The prices are reasonable for the burgers. Sides are prices separately.

Things I like--
Homemade potato chips and queso
1. Good price points on sandwiches.
2. They now have an outdoor patio for al fresco dining.
3. It is in the middle of town (N. 1st around Westwood) which makes it getting to it less of a hassle than the far south side places.
4. Friendly workers and fun atmosphere.
5. Delicious homemade ranch dressing.
6. Run various specials--check their social media.
7. Free peanuts in the shell to snack on while you wait for your food to be cooked.
8. Homemade potato chips.
9. Bluebell ice cream.
Mushroom burger with onion rings


Cheeseburger and fries
Things that need improving--
1. Heavy handed with the salt on everything.
2. Some may not like that they only serve Dublin sodas but there is tea, water, beer, and frozen margaritas.
3. Fries and onion ring portions are on the small side for the price.
4. TVs are sometimes a bit on the loud side.



Grumps Burgers
3533 N 1st Street
Abilene, TX 79603
325-232-6753

BUSINESS HOURS
Mon - Sat
11 AM - 9 PM

Sunday
Closed

Friday, March 13, 2020

Galveston Seafood Company now in Abilene--fresh and quite fabulous

My apologies for the long absence from the blog. Sometimes life gets in the way of dining out.

Now on to the good stuff.

There is a new seafood place in town, Galveston Seafood Company, in the old Towne Crier location on Highway 80. Table service, nice dishes, freshened decor, very attentive servers and a visit from the son of the owner to check on us, I have to say--I was impressed. But what most impressed me was the food. Lunch specials for $10...alright, alright, alright!

Lunch fried shrimp with red beans and rice and hushpuppies
My companion and I walked in and were greeted promptly and seated quickly. We both had the fried shrimp $10 lunch special. Two sides were included. Me being me, I had to have the red beans and rice and hushpuppies.  My friend got fries and mixed vegetables to go with her shrimp. Other side options were greens, fried cabbage, and red potatoes. A definite southern/Cajun/Creole influence was at play.

The shrimp had a tempura style batter and they were fresh. You can just tell. The texture is different. Fresh seafood is something that is not easy to get in landlocked Abilene. The shrimp were good-sized as well, not those sad little ones you get served in chain seafood restaurants.

I enjoyed the extra effort in the presentation of the food. The red beans and rice were tasty but my preference is for a bit more spice so some added Tabasco sauce did the trick. The hushpuppies came out crisp. The fries and mixed vegetables that my friend has as sides were good as well, though keep in mind the vegetables are sauteed not steamed. Portions were generous.
Lunch fried shrimp with fries and mixed vegetables

The service was excellent. The son of the owner brought me a sample of the crawfish etouffee after he stopped by our table and we were discussing the food. It was a variation on a recipe from his grandma.  The etouffee was extremely rich. Butter and cream were part of the roux and it had a nice spicy kick to it. I could not finish the sample due to being stuffed from the size of my lunch. He told me that they bring in the seafood every 2-3 days.

Dinner prices are higher but I would imagine the servings are large. The main menu had a lot of variety of seafood and included some non-seafood items such as a burger and chicken Alfredo pasta.

Sample of the crawfish etouffee
This is a nice restaurant and fresh seafood is not cheap. Plan accordingly. The quality and service was wonderful and my next visit will be for dinner or maybe breakfast/brunch on the weekend which had some intriguing options on the menu.

If you like seafood, I highly recommend you give them a try.





Galveston Seafood Company
818 E. Hwy 80, Abilene, TX 79601
325-232-6580
https://www.facebook.com/galvestonseafoodcompany/

Friday 11AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Saturday 8AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Sunday 10AM–3PM, 5–8PM
Monday Closed
Tuesday 11AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Wednesday 11AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Thursday 11AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Updated--Closed. 5C Smokehouse in Clyde (TX) America--My new place for steak and a brisket-stuffed potato



Menu page 1
Menu page 2
Update--They closed the restaurant at the end of July 2019 to concentrate only on catering. 

Some friends and I took the short drive over to Clyde to have a weekend dinner to a spot with some good buzz foodie grapevine around this area.

Steak bites
If you haven't been to 5-C Smokehouse yet* you are missing carnivore heaven. I was very impressed with the steak and enjoyed the brisket a lot as well. So many places, tend to over-season their meat but that is not the case at 5C. The steak had a nice char on it but was still juicy. It was just right for my taste. No steak sauce necessary. The menu is simple but covers all the basics.

Brisket stuffed potato
We started off with an order of steak bites ($5.99). This was simply a sirloin cut up in pieces and brought out in a bowl. We all wanted to try the steak before committing to ordering an entire one for an entree. All of us were impressed. In fact, if you do not want a big steak you can order the steak bites as your entree and add a side or two. The only drawback is that they are pre-cooked so there is not the option to get your preference as to "doneness". When we ordered ita as our appetizer, it came out medium but the ones that came out as an entree and then with a takeaway order at the end, the steak was more medium-well to well-done. If you prefer steak rare or medium-rare, go with the whole ribeye, sirloin, or filet (those are your options $24-$37). No size in ounces were given.

Slice brisket plate with house-made sausage and potato salad
Everyone at the table either ordered steak or brisket for their meal. I went with a brisket-stuffed baked potato, as the steak bites appetizer took the edge off my hunger for a full steak. The brisket was smokey and flavorful. Maybe a little dry but I prefer that to a lot of visible fat. The potato was soft. Perfectly baked. At $8.99, I was pleased. Also had a taste of the house-made sausage. Spicy with some cheese in it. Quite good.

No one ordered it but a specialty of the house is a huge pork chop called a Big Jake. We saw one that another person had ordered and it was indeed huge, at least 2 inches thick, and took up half the plate. Ribs and chicken are also on the menu.

For desert, we shared an apple dumpling ala mode. It was made up of two crescent rolls with apple topping and ice cream. Simple, but a pleasant end to the meal. The rolls were a on the small side. One more in the dish would have been nice.
Outdoor seating area



Everyone in the group was pleased with their food. Service was friendly. Our young server was very patient with our questions. If she did not know the answer, she would go find out. We choose to sit on the outside patio. Everyone was sitting out there. No one was inside. It was a mild night and there is netting around the parameter that helps keep most of the insects out. A place with a laid-back atmosphere where families, groups, and couples were all enjoying the evening. I know for certain, I will go again and bring more people.

Beer and wine are served.

5-C Smokehouse
205 S 1st St
Clyde, TX 79510
325-893-1020
https://5csmokehouse.com/

*Only open on Friday and Saturday evenings 5pm-9pm