My first time hearing about, well seeing, Nashville Hot Chicken, was on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.  It looked beyond amazing.  Seasoning galore, juicy, flavor explosion, or like Guy Fieri says, “Flavor Town!”  I thought, “Man I wish we had a restaurant in Dallas that served Hot Chicken.  Well I got my wish, the restaurant Gods came through. Well sort of.

Another brunch date came about, you know I can never pass that meal up and of course, my date left it up to me to pick the place.  I read a while back, I’m pretty sure it was last year, in D Magazine, about Rapscallion. They were listed under The Best New Restaurants 2015, so clearly I was a little late with my visit, but hey, better late than never right?!  So, it was a beautiful Sunday on Greenville Ave., everybody was out, walking, coupled up, with their families, walking their dogs, just a great day to eat, drink, gossip and be merry.  Just to be safe and secure a seat, because I was so anxious about this place, I made reservations.  Whenever I can, I do.  When I got there, they had to wipe down our table, get things situated right, quick, fast, so I waited a couple minutes, not long, sat at the bar and observed.  Fresh oysters on ice right in front of me, shared a carafe of tap water with a nice, pierced-up gentleman, listened to the talk in the restaurant, just chilled.  I had a moment to look at the menu, check out what I wanted to eat that could possibly change my entire life.  Yes that’s my view on food. lol

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My friend and I were finally seated and by then, even though it had literally only been about 10-15 minutes, I was parched, my throat was a little desert-y, so I decided to treat myself to a pretty little cocktail first.  The Bardstown Breakfast Cocktail.  It’s listed on the brunch menu.  If I could describe it in like two or three words, I’d say festive, Christmas-y, a Winter-y taste. Very warm.  I’m pretty sure the Maker’s Mark and the maple had a lot to do with that feeling.

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Welp, we got right to it, no games, just order and be done with it.  Of course, to see what all the hype was about, we did place an order for the Yard Bird, half bird.  It came with biscuits, huge biscuits, so I figured, that’s more than enough for two little ladies.  I was definitely right.

First up, the biscuits.  Fresh, hot, flaky, buttery and big.  I mean huge!  I was strategic when assembling mine.  The honey butter was first.  Let that melt into each and every layer of the biscuit.  Then, a hefty layer of the seasonal fruit jam, which I’m pretty sure it was strawberry.  I love fresh fruit jam, spread, preserves, it’s just so good!  Those came out first, but shortly thereafter they placed a beautiful Nashville platter of hot, fried Szechuan chicken on the table.  I loved the presentation, the placement and arrangement of the chicken on the plate.  It was real food art.  Plated with the chicken were these green bean-like objects, from what I read on the menu, it was a simple pickled mirliton salad.  Those little green things were so good, so crunchy, so fresh.  I love a pickled veggie.  But, ANYWHO, I think I grabbed a leg first.  I love a leg, oh and a wing, a thigh when cooked perfectly and the breast too.  I like it all Hell.

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First bite, the texture and taste of the crust on the chicken is what stood out.  Right away, I think Chinese five spice.  I think Asian influence, not your average seasonings for a fried piece of chicken.  Everything was pretty much on point.  It was juicy, flavor was all in and throughout the bird, trust me when I say we ate it all.  There were no take home boxes bih LoL…BUT, and this is kind of a big “but”, cause I can not lie (did you catch that?! lmao), even though the seasonings were intricate and detailed an different, outside of the box, a little salt would have really been the icing on the cake.  A couple of sprinkles here and a couple of sprinkles there is all that this batter needed and I would have been 100% sold.  I think I was like 99% sold.  Still, nothing less than delicious.

Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts Do I have your attention?! Yes you read right…Fried chicken and glazed donuts.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, kettle-cooked potato chips & pretzels, French fries & ketchup, sweet cornbread and  milk, even bacon and chocolate-covered potato chips (my personal favorite, don’t y’all DARE judge LoL).  I can’t believe I just named all those damn random combos.  I’m not pregnant y’all, trust.

Anyways, took a trip to H-Town, Houston, TX for the slow people in the room, to see my best friend and to allow King Bey a.k.a. Beyoncé, to snatch my soul ever so gently from my body, then give me back my precious life, at The Formation Tour. In the mean time, in between time, I had to get my fat girl on and feed my face at yet another delicious restaurant that this city had to offer.

 

We headed over to The Heights, really nice area, pulled up to Lee’s Fried Chicken & Donuts.  Luckily, for a Saturday, it wasn’t crowded at all.  The place is really cute.  Gives you that dive-y, diner feel, old school, booths and walk-up counters.  I can’t lie, walking up to the register, looking at the menu, I was a little intimidated, because I didn’t know where to start.  Everything looked so good.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the donuts in the case and fresh, hot, fried chicken coming out of the fryer behind the cashier!  After being lost for a quick 30 seconds or so, I was found.  I saw what I wanted that was going to change my taste buds forever – Double Donut Fried Chicken Sandwich. Wait, WHET?!  I couldn’t just stop there though, so I got a side of the Southern Potato Salad and a side of the Bacon, Onion & Jalapeno Marmalade for my sandwich.  My best friend got Lee’s Fried Chicken Sandwich with a side of the creamed corn.  Different things ordered for tasting purposes, a variety at the table.  Smart girls, we know.

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the calm before the storm…

Let me just say, everything came out quick, hot, piping hot, fresh and they do not skimp on the portions.  What you see above, it may not look like a lot, but once that wrapper was removed and tops were taken off, oh BOY!

 

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IMG_9105Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, you are seeing right.  That is two, golden-fried, juicy, all white meat, chicken tenders, sandwiched between two, whole glazed donuts.  I seriously took a good 30 seconds to a minute to just sit back and realize what was sitting in front of me.  When I picked it up to take a bite, I didn’t even know where to bite, it was so pretty.  That moment passed though, real quick, fast.  I was done and over with.  Pure sweet and savory bliss, my eyes literally closed from such pleasantry and happiness.  Chicken and donut euphoria.  It got worse though, I took greed and gluttony to a whole other level.

See…the sandwich came with a sauce.  The first sauce listed on the menu, clearly because it’s the most popular – Bacon, Onion & Jalapeno Marmalade.  Damn, Damn, DAMN!

IMG_9104I’m pretty sure that the recipe for this delectable dressing, is top secret.  It’s pure gold.  I don’t think it would taste bad on anything.  You’ve got bacon, BACON, jalapeno, onion and I bet brown sugar plays a huge part.  What wouldn’t taste good topped off with this?! Tell me!  I’ll wait.  So, to add more insult to this enticing injury, I did it, I added the marmalade to the sandwich.  LAWD have mercy.

IMG_9101There was nothing left on my tray.  Nothing. Maybe a corner of the potato salad, because I was content, not too full, but satisfied.  But the sandwich?! Oh it didn’t stand a chance.  How does one come up with this stuff?  Something so simple, to change your life in one bite.  If they had one in Dallas, I promise I’d be there every weekend, probably on a Sunday, Sunday Funday.  It’s only right.  I wouldn’t feel as guilty, because I weigh in on Fridays, I’d eat it on Sunday and have ALL week to work it off, only to weigh in on that following Friday, having lost weight, like I never even consumed the colossal calorie concoction.  The fact that I had to explain that theory, is so sad. Go to Lee’s in Houston, you’ll understand better.

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I’m all about trying new things, y’all know me.  Open-minded, eclectic, daring (when it comes to food, don’t know about other things), balls to the wall, LET’S GO!  This visit to Wabi House definitely raised the bar, challenged me in the area of culinary adventures.  To celebrate my brother’s birthday, who’s a cook in the DFW area, he wanted to take us to this restaurant he always talked about. Of course we were down, it was all for the birthday boy.  As much as I frequent the Lower Greenville area, I had never passed by Wabi House shockingly.  Not a big place at all, the bar is both inside and outside, which I like a lot, like that concept and the kitchen is open as well, one of my favorite things I like in a restaurant.

When my parents and I looked at the menu, of course I perused it way in advance on trusty Yelp, we didn’t really know what was good, what was popular, what to get, period.  It was ok though, because Cam bro, he took all control.  So, we started off with appetizers of course, just to get a feel of what we, or he, had gotten us into.

Fried Octopus Balls *blank stare* wait, WHET? Crispy Pork Ears *swallows hard, then sighs* and good old fashioned Sweet Corn Fritters.  Like Chicken Express?! Ok cool.  Had to get something that we actually recognized LoL.  Let me say, my bro knows his food, because we tore up everything on every one of those plates.  I can’t even explain how weird and delicious the Octopus Balls were, all at the same time.  If I had to describe the texture, it was like silk.  Really.  They melted in my mouth. Every last bite.  So luscious and creamy and amaze balls, no pun intended.  We were all shocked.  Then, the Crispy Pork Ears, I was a little hesitant, because I didn’t want a mouth full of the taste of fat.  I definitely didn’t get that.  They were full of flavor, seasoned perfectly, fried to crispy perfection, just like a pork cracklin’.  What made it for me, was the sauce that came with it.  Benito Aioli.  Bottle it up and I’ll be the first one in line.  The Sweet Corn Fritters were just that.  Once again, another delectable aioli was drizzled on top, which made them even better.  So, as you can see, we were off to a great start.

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Now for our main courses, that’s where things got a little tricky, because there were a lot of ingredients that we were a little unsure about.  When it comes to going out to a restaurant with my family, we all try to get a variety of options, so that we can all taste off each others plates.  I kind of knew what kind of ramen I wanted, I just didn’t know which ramen bowl would satisfy my craving.  I didn’t want a lot of broth, I wanted substance, I wanted hearty, I wanted texture.  The Dry Garlic Ramen was what I needed in my life and the only way to perfectly describe it would be Carbonara Ramen.

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That poached egg, when the yolk oozed all throughout the bowl, it really brought all of the ingredients together, coated every noodle, very filling, full of distinct flavors that meshed so well.  Another star in the bowl of amazingness, the Chashu.  Chashu is marinated, braised pork belly.  Usually, when I see pork belly on a menu, I don’t order it.  I’m a little intimidated because I’m not a huge fan of the fatty, gelatinous texture, but this was GOOD!  Cooked and charred perfectly, a big piece too, tons of smoky flavor.  And when I tell you this was a garlic overload, full of fresh garlic and garlic chips.  I couldn’t finish it all, it was impossible, I was sinfully full.  A smooth piece of Orbit Sweet Mint gum was popped in my mouth after my last bite, immediately.

I must say, the first word that always comes to mind when I think of Wabi House is “weird”, only because my first time was definitely an out of this World experience, but I mean that in the nicest way possible, because Wabi House was definitely an A+ in my book.

 

 

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Good times are always had when I take a quick little road trip to Houston, TX…I hate the drive though, can’t stand it.  I swear it’s the longest 3-4 hours E-VER.  I literally have to prepare myself mentally every time.  This time was different though.  This time, it was myself along with 15 other girls, one being the bride-to-be, so I finally got to sit back and relax.  It was the morning of our departure from H-Town, but before we hit the road, we had to feed our appetite and all of the alcohol that we consumed in VIP the night before.  One of my best friends Meagan, she’s from Houston and she’s one of the bridesmaids in the wedding, so all fingers pointed to her for a good place to chow down on brunch, nothing quick and fast.  We wanted the real deal Holyfield.

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When we first walked into Tout Suite, which is located right in the heart of Downtown Houston, all of us were a little iffy about the place.  It had a stuffy, bourgeoisie vibe, but as we looked around, it was actually very laid and relaxed.  I guess in our minds, we were looking for a place like say, Breakfast Klub.  A more Southern establishment, down home cooking, something rich, stomach-coating, makes you fall asleep in the car as soon as you hit the highway.  That kinda food.  Well you know what, we shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions and assumed that it wasn’t our cup of tea, because when we were standing in line, everything that every server brought from out of that kitchen looked amazing.  One thing that caught my eye was the Avocado Toast.  Now personally, I wouldn’t have been able to eat that.  Avocado overload kills my stomach, makes my throat it, food allergy clearly.  Hitch much?!  But anyways, the presentation of every piece of food on that plate was perfect.  The height of the toasted loaf stack, the vibrant lime green color of the avocado, which was spread so smoothly, then the pinkish-red specks from the radish slices.  It was like art. Really.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty though.  I had the Classic French Toast, you’ll see that above, placed ever so nicely on a white plate, which I love.  Brings out all the colors of the dish.  Thick slices of toast, the strawberry compote on top, I didn’t think I’d really be a fan of, but once the fat woman in me came out and I drizzled that hot syrup on top, the sweetness of it, mixed with the tartness of the strawberry, I tried to get that in every bite that I took from my fork.  I cleaned my plate, I knew that was gonna be the end result from jump.  But, let me tell y’all about this chicken & waffles, never mind the waffles, but this fried chicken of theirs! *sigh*  The biggest mistake that a lot of restaurants make when frying any protein, in my opinion, is not seasoning both the meat AND the batter.  HUGE mistake.  I’ll tell you what, Tout Suite has got it down to a science.  The skin, batter, crust, coating on the chicken,  whatever you like to call it, it was so enticing, so distinctive it was like something I’ve never tasted before.  It wasn’t greasy in any way, it wasn’t heavy, it was almost like an herb-crusted chicken.  You could actually see the seasonings on the chicken and around the plate.  Like a true masterpiece, the chef took his time when assembling this plate.  Which I love.

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ALL photography done by Yours Truly…so pretty huh?!

Even the smallest things, like their fresh squeezed orange juice, was so good, so fresh, so sweet.  Of course there weren’t free refills, grrrrrr.  So, I seriously sipped on that little glass of joy for a good minute.

Visiting a place like Tout Suite definitely taught me that, sometimes you just gotta open the door, walk in, look at the menu.  Don’t underestimate.  Even as a serious foodie, one that will try anything once, I almost turned away, we all almost walked out.  You never know what you might stumble upon, what you might end up liking.  Could end up being one of your favorite restaurants.  I was very hesitant, we all were, but me personally, I would definitely go back.  I heard The Suite Burger is really good.  Lunch?  Dinner anyone?

 

 

I’m not a person, or should I say a foodie, that tends to frequent a place outside of Dallas more than once, especially on vacation.  There’s always an exception though.  Atlanta is a place that my mom and I love to visit when we can, make a quick little girl’s trip every once in a while.  The variety of food, good food, good Southern, home-cooked food in Atlanta is overwhelming, but one place that always makes my “Let’s Go Here” List is Serpas True Food.  Everything about this place I absolutely love.  The location, the people, the ambience, the construction of the bathrooms (yes, you read right lol), the menu, it just all works, and it works well.

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Of course, every one of my visits to Serpas, is during my favorite meal of the day…BRUNCH!  I love how busy it is, I love that most of the time, the weather is nice, you hear people laughing, in a great mood, because usually they just got out of church and the menu selection is on point.  Not quite breakfast, not quite lunch.  Once again, BRUNCH!

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What you see above, that semi-devoured bowl of savory goodness, that’s Shrimp & Scallop.  Which could also be called Shrimp, Grits & a BIG OL’ Scallop.  I think it might be the best tasting shrimp and grits dish I’ve ever had.  I don’t order shrimp and grits at a lot of restaurants, but 9 times out of 10, when I go to Serpas, this will be placed in front of me to enjoy.  Juicy, plump shrimp, this red, savory tomato-ey gravy and one ginormous scallop that I always save for the last bite.  It’s like two scallops put together, so sweet and succulent.  That one little, but big thing, makes this dish stand out.  I love the consistency of the grits, surprisingly, because I’m a fan of thick grits, that stick to the spoon, but these were completely opposite.  They weren’t too, too thick, but not soupy.  I like it though.  The flavor trumps all, so no complaints.  It’s so pretty before it’s gobbled down, right?

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To start us off right though, every time, the Buttermilk Biscuits.  Four flaky, golden brown, hot, fresh, biscuits, served in an iron skillet, which I love, gives the appetizer so much personality.  They come with soft butter, that is key, and a cup of house made blackberry jelly, I think it is.  Something I could eat everyday.  You bit into it and you can see the layers of baked yumminess, topped with that sweet jelly and salty butter, melting all over.  Forgive me as I snap out of it, y’all can tell I went back to that moment.

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This may be a tiny little additive, but they deserve recognition.  The hash browns.  Only thing is, they’re not what you think.  They were actually more like home fries.  The way they were prepared, touched all of my heart, soul and stomach.  They were crispy on the edges and soft on the inside, cooked with onions, red and green bell peppers, reminded me so much of my Grammy’s cooking.  So much seasoning and flavor, I couldn’t stop eating them.  My mom even reached for a couple and I kindly pushed her fork smooth to the side.  I don’t play.

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Sadly, I left out of that restaurant miserably full, but every bite was damn sure worth it.  The “itis” set in right away, nap mode was right around the corner.  Places like that, that put you in a food coma after, they keep you coming back for more.  That’s why Serpas will always see me, whenever I’m in the “A”.

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