Here's where I write stuff about lunch

Arirang April 17, 2014

Brian and I went to Arirang, a newish Korean restaurant north of downtown Austin on Airport Blvd. Or is it Aha Rirang? Sometimes they spell it that way, too. Our friend Edd recommended it.

Arirang Outside

We weren't sure what we were in for because a sign on the wall was presumably in Korean, and we were the first customers of the day, so we couldn't look at other people's food.

Arirang Sign

When we got the menu, we were pleased to see lots of pictures.

Arirang Menu

The waitress recommended an appetizer, Kimbap with spicy veggie. She prefaced the recommendation by asking if we liked to eat seaweed. Then she matter-of-factly added it was raw octopus marinated in a spicy sauce with rice wrapped in seaweed.

We ordered it and it was good. Brian described it as spicy and refreshing.

Arirang Appetizer

For an entree, Brian almost ordered hair tail fish, but it was $17.99 and had the word hair in it.

I asked if the Dolsot Bibimbap (a sizzling clay pot full of rice, beef, veggies and egg) came with the traditional assortment of side dishes that Korean restaurants serve. Yes! I ordered that and so did Brian.

Arirang Dolsot Bibimbap

While we ate, we listened to the Korean equivalent of Neil Diamond, watched lady golfers on TV and talked of Vulture.com's ranking of all 64 Stephen King books. Brian wasn't convinced about the rankings, but he was sure he liked having a comprehensive list of Stephen King novels. I was happy to see my favorite Stephen King novel ranked #1 (no spoilers... you'll have to look for yourself).

I was also happy that Arirang has table salt right there on the table. Not like a certain Austin ramen place staffed by skinny white girls and big haired white boys who claim to have no salt in the entire restaurant. Oh, really?

Arirang Sides

Another thing we liked is that the waiter asked if we wanted more sides. I told him I'd like to try the green side the table next to us had, so he brought us a bowl. Brian said it was a good call because the greens (not pictured) were tasty.

Eating the greens went something like this: chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew chew until you realize at some point you just have to commit to swallowing.

Arirang Brian

Another thing we liked: when you're ready to leave, you simply go to the cashier and pay out. No getting held hostage waiting for someone to bring the check. And then the bonus? The cashier offered to split the check.

On a subsequent visit, we discovered that golf is the sport of choice on TV for Arirang diners. We also discovered the serving of the food can be unexpected as we were served in this order:

  1. Side dishes
  2. Brian's meal
  3. Kim's meal
  4. Appetizer (steamed dumplings)

We were critical of the serving order at first (appetizer last?), but we quickly lost ourselves in the deliciousness that is Arirang cuisine.

A big Lunch with Brian thank you to Edd for the recommendation.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue September 14, 2013

I was craving barbecue, so Brian and I went to Lamberts Downtown Barbecue. It was also intended to be a re-do of another time we went when I ordered something I didn't like. Like a lunch mulligan. We discovered something disturbing about ourselves. More on that in a minute.

There was a lot of hammering going on. And drilling. Maybe even some sanding. Too much noise for upscale barbecue. I thought maybe they just had a little bit of work left from their morning renovation job and decided to go ahead and finish before too many other people came in. But they just kept hammering. And drilling. And sanding.

Brian thought the green chili queso sounded good, so we ordered that for starters. The chips were excellent. The queso was good, too, but very fluid and with not much chili flavor. The positives outweighed the negatives, though.

While we were getting our queso on, Brian asked who was singing the song overhead. I pulled out my genius phone, tapped Shazam and saw "Make It Known" by Foxygen.

That's when a disturbing thought began to unravel.

I told Brian that I thought we had Shazamed that song before because he asked the same question before. The idea that we were literally reliving our last visit to Lamberts began to form. I checked my Shazam history, and sure enough, that song was Shazamed a month ago when we last visited Lamberts. Brian said he asked about the song because he thought one of the singers sounded like Mick Jaggar. Deja vu again. He said that last time.

I guess it's not uncommon to have the same thought stream when you hear a song each time. But this felt different. The next song that came on was an Elton John song, and I clearly remember Elton following Foxygen last time, too. On a side note, Brian thinks their playlist might be in descending alpha artist order.

Next, Brian recommended the guacamole and chips at HEB which he's done on at least two other ocassions. Could it be our conversations are on repeat and we don't realize it? I think repeating conversations is okay as long as we're ignorant of it. But what happens if we become mindful of it?

Shiver.

About this time, Brian noticed his Grilled Caesar + Achiote Seared Chicken Breast on the serving bar. He also noticed one of the chefs taking a picture of it. Such pride. I took a picture of it, too.

Grilled Caesar

I ordered the Brown Sugar & Coffee Rubbed Natural Brisket with waffle fries and collard greens. I remembered not to order the Maple and Coriander Crusted Natural Pork Ribs, which others might like, but I do not.

Lamberts Brisket

While we were eating, Brian's brother Hunt texted him to see if he wanted to go to lunch. Brian told him we were at Lamberts, and Hunt replied, "Ah, enjoy a 20 dollah BBQ!" The joke's on him. It was $21.11. Each.

Brian and I split the check in half. Mine included an extra $3 for a latte, so we decided to even things up by me paying $1.50 more tip and him paying $1.50 less tip. I didn't mind at all because that makes me seem very generous and him seem like a cheapskate.

We recommend Lamberts if you're okay with 20 dollah BBQ. They stopped the hammering and drilling and sanding three-quarters through the meal. They've never been so noisy before, so don't go there expecting the special treatment. And the food really is good (OMG, the waffle fries!).

As we were leaving, Brian asked if the song overhead was "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover." It wasn't. He asked that the last time we were there, too.

Elizabeth Street Cafe July 19, 2013

Brian called me for two things this morning. First, he asked if I'd found his leftover sandwich from Tuesday in my car. Being Friday, that would be 3 days of decomposing sandwich in my car. Yuck. Second, he asked if I was available for lunch. Yes.

When we got to my car, we didn't find the sandwich, so maybe he put it in the work fridge and someone else ate it. Probably not, but it's fun to think someone did so I can say this: How rude.

Today's lunch was at Elizabeth Street Cafe. They are a hybrid of French and Vietnamese.

Elizabeth Street sign

We tried to go there last week, but they only have 3 parking spaces in their lot and by the time we found a place to park, we were already at another restaurant. Today, we found street parking close enough. I had to parallel park and commented that I wished I was drunk because parallel parking is so much easier when you're drunk. (Please note, I haven't drunk parallel parked for 30 years. Don't Drink and Drive!)

The first thing Brian noticed about Elizabeth Street Cafe was how dark it is inside if you're not sitting by a window. The first thing I noticed was how close together the tables are and that I needed to sit in the outside seat because I'm too big-boned to squeeze through to the inside booth. Luckily, Brian's a skinny dude.

booth

The music was in the background enough that it provided atmosphere, but wasn't distracting. Most of the time I couldn't tell what song was playing. But then Band of Horses came on and their low key music pierced through the din. "Anything to make you smile. You are the ever-living ghost of what once was."

Brian and I ordered the same thing: Broiled Niman Ranch Pork Belly BÚN (Rice Vermicelli Bowl with Lettuce, Herbs, Cucumber, Carrot, Roasted Peanuts, Nuoc Cham). Nuoc Cham is the dipping sauce. We both agreed the dish was excellent.

Bun

While we were eating, Brian watched the staff erase the entire specials board and slowly add dish after dish. They were still adding dishes when we payed out at 12:15 p.m. Brian would have ordered the Pork Belly Bahn Mi had it been on the board earlier. Poor Pork Belly Bahn Mi... late to the party.

Blank specials board

For dessert, I ordered the Pots de Creme which looks plural, but isn't. It was described as dark chocolate and chile, sour cherries, creme fraiche and mahlab tuille. That last thing is a rolled up cookie. It was good, but seemed more like milk chocolate than dark.

Pots de Creme

This is not a place for lunch on a budget, but the quality of the food is very good. Brian and I both liked it and will most likely visit again.

Elizabeth Street Brian Waving

Umami Mia July 17, 2013

Brian had pizza on the mind, so I suggested we try Umami Mia, a new restaurant in the building where my former favorite restaurant, Romeo's, used to be. I thought Romeo's closed so someone could build a new high rise condo because Austin doesn't have enough of those. I was wrong. The building spawned a new restaurant.

The first thing that caught our attention was the menu. The dishes are listed on a subway map. It reminded us of this time at work when someone designed an intranet home page that looked like a subway map. To click through to a section of the website, you had to find it along a route on the map. The designer thought it was great. The users didn't. Luckily for Umami Mia, their menu wasn't as complicated as that website so we didn't have trouble using it.

I was pleased they had a gluten free menu. The gluten free menu was smaller than the regular menu. I guess because they took the gluten out.

Side note: One time Brian and I went to a fondue restaurant. I was handed a menu that said "GF Menu". At the time, I wasn't hip to the gluten free way of eating, so I didn't know what GF stood for. Studying the menu for clues, I noticed it had no prices. Brian's menu had prices. Aha! I was tickled and told Brian they thought we were on a date because they had given me the girlfriend (GF) menu sans prices.

Back at Umami Mia, we ordered crispy mozzarella to start. It came with pickled stuff (carrots, onions, cucumber). It was good, but there wasn't enough cheese and pickles to warrant the $8.95 price.

Brian ordered a crispy chicken sandwich (bacon, watercress apple blue
cheese slaw, honey and chili flakes). He had a choice of side (veggie salad or gaspacho) and he chose the veggie salad. When the waiter brought it, I exclaimed "Wow!" because of how it looked.

Umami Mia Sandwich

Brian approved.

I ordered a gluten free mushroom pizza (Umami tomato sauce, wood roasted mushrooms, carmelized onions, Texas goat cheese, roasted garlic and balsamic reduction). I was happy with the crispy crust and the mix of toppings was delicious. It also had a good amount of mozzarella.

Umami Mia - Pizza

I approved.

Brian and I discussed the meaning of "umami", the fifth taste. You know... sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami. I'd only heard about umami within the last year. Another word for it is savory. Brian said soy sauce and glutamates have the umami flavor. He said mushrooms do, too, and that's why it's a good substitute for meat in vegetarian dishes.

There was a white board with specials written on it. It had a section for dessert, but it was confusing. There were three things there, and two of them were not dessert-like at all (one had prosecco and prosciutto). The item that seemed to actually be a dessert had figs and vanilla, but that didn't pique my interest. I was in the mood for something salty and sweet after all that savory umami.

24 Diner April 6, 2012

Brian and I went to 24 Diner. They bill themselves as serving "classic American cuisine, good service, fun atmosphere -- and turned up about 10 notches." We're not sure about the notches, but they do have some classic dishes with good service.

Here's Brian out front by some palm trees under construction:

Brian Waving in front of 24 Diner

Maybe the 10 notches they're talking about are the prices, because they did seem to be turned up. Corn fritters for $8? Pork Belly sandwich for $16?

We got there about 11:20 a.m., and it was crowded. We were seated at a two-top with a booth on one side and chair on the other. Brian sat on the booth side. Brian said he felt crowded by Mr. Half Shirt sitting next to us with his feet up on the booth. Mr. Half Shirt left not too long after we got there, though.

I'm working the Paleo diet, and I felt like having breakfast for lunch like any breakfast craving caveman would. Typical American breakfast usually comes with some carbs, so I had to order a la carte to avoid the breads and potatoes. I got two eggs, bacon, sausage and bacon-braised greens.

Brian is working the "I'll eat whatever I damn well please" diet, so he ordered the large chicken and waffles. Sunny, the waitress who didn't look anything like Jack Bauer, tried to talk him into downsizing, but was unsuccessful. Brian likes his leftovers.

In the meantime, Simon and Garfunkel were singing "At The Zoo."

We dug these trumpet shaped light fixtures.

Three large trumpet shaped lights overhead

Sometimes the overhead music was muffled, but sometimes the music was clear. During a moment of music clarity, The Decemberists were singing "Calamity Song." I love the Decemberists. I used to hate the Decemberists, but just as my taste buds change over time, so do my ear buds.

Then California Dreamin' came on and Brain gave us a grammar lesson. He said that two songs come to mind when he thinks about subjunctive tense. "If I Were A Rich Man" is an example of the correct subjective tense. California Dreamin's "I'd be safe and warm if I was in L.A." is incorrect. No charge for that.

The food arrived. Mine looked like this:

Bacon, eggs, sausage and greens

The greens were great and two out of the three bacon slices were crunchy and greasy at the same time (which I like). The third slice of bacon was tough. The semi-circle of eggs was adequate and the sausage was a little rubbery. Including iced tea, they notched this meal up to $16 (after taxes) due to it being a la carte. This is out of my price range to ever get again.

Brian's food looked like this:

Chicken and Waffles

Brian said the chicken was good, but you can get better at Max's Wine Dive. He said the waffle had a different flavor than expected. I tasted it, too. He guessed it was sourdough and I guessed it had booze in it. He said the syrup was warm. The chicken and waffles cost $14 (after taxes).

While we were eating, Brian noted that the woman who took Mr. Half Shirt's seat was very excited about everything she said.

Our final verdict is that the food is good, the prices are higher than we'd like and we'll probably never have an urge to go there again. But you never know... we've been there before.

24 Diner Sign