Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: Frank's Grill on Westheimer

Some days, there is nothing like an American Diner to provide that familiar, comfort food that isn't necessarily good for your body or healthy but is definitely good for your soul.  This is the kind of food that satisfies a number of sensations--texture, sound, filling nature, saltiness, sweetness, and just plain good.  Whether the diner is a chain or a locally owned joint, these places are touchstones to American Culture.  Folks fought for the right to be served equally through going into diners and sitting there, waiting for service in a Ghandi-esque passive resistance.  Movies like When Harry Met SallyDiner and Tin Men show them as gathering places where events of the day are reflected, friends and coworkers celebrate and commiserate, and life's little nuggets are served with a helping of wet fries, a cup of joe and some of the most comforting food out there.  Frank's Grill on Westheimer echoes much of this, with Houston flair.

After our move to Shadow Lake, deeper in Westchase, I have found myself exploring some of the local places--and there are a good deal of them--all cuisines.  Frank's Grill was right on Westheimer within walking distance (one mile) from our house.  You walk into this place, and you have elements of a classic American Greasy Spoon.  Long Diner, formica, tile and chrome, the scent of salt, meat and potatoes; and the usual diner kitsch.  No, it's not their classic location on Telephone Road, and that's ok.  The menu is the same and the staff is laid back and friendly.  I was hungry for a burger and fries.  And I found that Frank's had some interesting variations that weren't the usual!

Their menu includes several specialty burgers.  They have a patty melt, a mushroom & provolone and a signature Frank's Burger.  While all of these looked great, I went with the Chorizo Huevo Burger:  a Beef Patty Topped with spicy chorizo, a fried egg, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, all on a fluffy bun.  When the burger arrived (see the pic on the left!) I saw a big, juicy, spicy, hot mess of a burger and thought "Wow!  This looks GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!"  In all seriousness, between the spicy chorizio fumes wafting off of it and the meaty visual presentation, I was salivating.  One bite hit that mixture of meaty, spicy, cheesy nerves that only a big, messy burger like this one could satisfy.  And this was also a very generous portion too, I might add.

Although Franks has regular French Fries, I was drawn to their Buffalo Fries with Ranch Dresing on the side.  These fries were coated and spun in a spicy sauce and served up crispy with your choice of Bleu Cheese dressing or Ranch on the side.  I saw someone dump the dressing on their order, but I'm more partial to dipping myself.  These fries were crunchy and well seasoned, spicy yet not excessively so.  I had leftovers though (huge order, again great portion for the money) and toasted them up later on, managing to get my normally hot and spicy averse son to try a couple and he gave them a huge thumbs up.  Nice job, Frank's Grill!

Report Card For Frank's Grill:
     Chorizo Huevo Burger: A
     Buffalo Fries: A+
     Speed: B+
     Friendliness: A
     Dining Area: A-
     Kitchen: A
     Men's Room: Incomplete
Atmosphere (Old School Diner): A-

Overall Grade: A- 

Frank's Grill was mainly a breakfast and lunch place for a while, but more recently the Westheimer location has opened up for dinner, until 9 PM most weeknights.  It's not fancy, but it's good food and it's comfort food, and I will be back.

Frank's Grill has 7 Houston area locations.  I went to the one at:
12225 Westheimer Suite B
Houston, TX  77082

7 Days a Week
6 AM to 9 PM

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's been a Crazy Couple of Months!

Dear Readers:

I apologize that some of my blog posts at have been delayed this month.  My main jobs as a professor and as a father have been very demanding recently.  I have been literally grading over 150 papers a week and helping my daughter, who struggles with a working memory gap, to deal with Grade 7 Science and Math. I've also been dealing with a few of the crazy events of life that have tossed a few obstacles my way and made getting the time to get out to events for coverage, as well as getting time to write well and with a clear head, kind of difficult.  I have some good stuff in the pipeline that will be coming up this week and will be back on track in November.

I've tried my best to post quick tweets, retweets, and do FB posts of great food, beverage, cocktails and other events in Houston and beyond despite these other issues and time crunches, as some is better than none.  I am not quitting my blog, I am not abandoning writing about great food & beverage and great folks in the Houston area and beyond--it is something I love dearly, it has enriched my life and my family's life so well in the past 3+ years and I'm not done with it yet!  I'm just asking those of you who have worked with me before, PR folks, chefs, restaurants, my colleagues, friends and social media folks to be patient as I have personal and professional demands that are weighing on me and making it difficult for the moment.  It's not going to last forever, things are already clearing up a bit, which is good news.

Sorry to ramble, just wanted to let those who wondered know what is up.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Preview of New Fall Desserts at Mr. Peeples

As the Fall makes its slow advance into Houston, Mr. Peeples on Bagby near downtown takes a shift towards the traditional as they roll out some new desserts for the fall and Chefs Pedro Silva and Angel Rios have been working away to give desserts that catch they eye and leave the diner satisfied with their last bite, ensuring a happy return visit!  This is just as Mr. Peeples has passed its 1 year anniversary and has had a few changes in the front of the house.  Still Chefs Silva and Rios are the constants that keep Mr. Peeples working like the creatively well oiled machine it is, and I for one am happy to report some of these new desserts are quite fabulous.

Chef Rios was most proud to report on his traditional Creme Brulee.  Here you have the thick, vanilla egg custard with a nice, crispy topping made from blowtorched raw sugar and garnished with fresh berries.  A blind man could dip a spoon in it, hear the crunch, catch that vanilla egg smell and immediately know it was Creme Brulee.  Whether up close or at a distance, there is no mistaking this wonderful dessert that has been a steakhouse staple for years and this version here, with a slight essence of cinnamon and other fresh and fine ingredients is one worth having after dinner or just for a dessert and coffee date.  Highly recommended!  Grade: A+

The next dessert is a Godiva Chocolate Cake garnished with fresh berries, homemade vanilla ice cream and a chocolate twist garish that catches your eye like a flag as it passes by on the way to a happy diner's table.  The way it catches your eye, especially if you are a fiend for fine chocolate, will probably lead to more than a few other diners ordering the same thing.  The cake is rich and moist, slightly sweet, and the fresh house-made ice cream is rich with vanilla bean and eggs.  Recommended for the chocolate lover for sure.  Grade: A

This is Texas, dang it!  Many of us have pecan trees in our yards and Mr. Peeples has a pecan tree on their property.  Now that Fall is here, Pecan Pie is a must for any Texas restaurant or household to serve and if you can use your own locally sourced pecans as Mr. Peeples does, then it's even better.  This is an individual pecan pie baked in a tart pan using raw sugar, real cinnamon and other dessert spices and is garnished with a dulce de leche cinnamon caramel house-made ice cream, and garnished with more house-made caramel.  This is a Texas Pecan pie with some Tex-Mex influence and is ALL GOOD, folks!  Grade: A+

It's October and it's pumpkin season all over.  Mr Peeples has a light, fluffy yet rich and creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake with a crunchy caramelized raw sugar topping and a house made caramel sauce all over it, served with a fresh berry garnish.    This dessert was one that Chefs Rios & Silva were really happy about and personally, I like cheesecake of all varieties.  This one had a nice hint of pumpkin flavouring, but it wasn't overpowering.  Some Pumpkin cheesecakes taste like someone poured artificial pumpkin spice flavour syrup into a cheesecake mix.  This had the texture of that lovely orange gourd, but no overpowering sweetness or plastic flavour.  Nothing but the real thing--everything you want, nothing you don't!  Grade: A

Last but by no means least, I tried the Pretzel Bread Pudding.  Bread Pudding done right is an art form--a delicious, chewy, spiced, sweet treat for the mouth and palate.  When done wrong.... I just won't go there.  No need to.  The Pretzel Bread Pudding is awesome.  You have a thin layer of nicely toasted slices of pretzel bread, soaked in a soft, warm, smooth vanilla egg type custard, dusted with powdered sugar, garnished with house made vanilla bean ice cream and berries, and includes a raspberry sauce to pour over the bread pudding.  This dessert was DA BOMB.  This had the textures, the crunch, the softness, the cool creaminess of the ice cream, the warm custard egg sweet goodness and the slight tartness of the berries all working to satisfy that sweet craving I had.  If you've not had this iteration of Bread Pudding, you are missing out, Dear Readers!  Grade: A+++

Besides great new Desserts, Mr. Peeples will have a special Halloween Party--they will change their name from Mr. Peeples to Mr. CREETURES  in their 2nd Annual Halloween Party! On Friday October 31, from 9 PM to 2 AM, featuring ghouls, goblins, tricks, treats and the unexpected. The Duffle Bag Diva’s – TWIN sisters that are the resident DJ’s at Roxbury Hollywood garden on Saturday nights & headlined the 2012 MAXIM Magazine Super Bowl party in Ft. Lauderdale will be spinning tunes for guests. Opening act DJ Tiffany Kristensen will also peform.  The Dufflebag DJs are by far the hottest and most talented TWIN DJ’s in the world. The party is sponsored by Belvedere Vodka – The world’s original luxury vodka. For Information click the previous link or phone 713-652-0711.  Tickets are $25.00 in advance, $35.00 at the door.  Definitely a Halloween party worth checking out, folks!

Mr. Peeples is located at:
1911 Bagby Street
Houston, TX 77002

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!