Sunday, February 17, 2013

Breakfast and Dinner Report: When Things Go Bad, And Good...

One of the big problems you encounter if you scour the Internet looking for some information on a restaurant you are about to try out is that, over time, some crappy places turn good (okay, that is pretty rare) but more likely, some good places turn bad.  I am one of those people who likes to read the reviews given by fellow citizens in search of good eats.  Places like Urban Spoon or Google come to mind, but also I do read blogs that share a common interest, like mine, willing to share information about places we have been.

The big problem is, things often change.  There is new management or a change in supplier or in some cases, it turns out that in order to save money, the entire concept is modified.  One of the quickest examples I can think of is Brenda's Burger over on Southwest Military Drive.  When that place first opened up, Brenda's was located closer to Lackland AFB.  She offered up some big burgers and great fries, and I loved that place.  The cost of rent changed and she moved into a new place closer to Quintana Road and clearly, she made some changes including different fries.  Don't get me wrong, I still stop in for lunch once every 6 months or so, and I can't characterize it as bad.  But if you had talked to someone or read a review written in 1999 or 2000, the rave reviews about Brenda's that would make you want to visit would not be talking about the same experience you will have now.  It has changed.

When we first moved out here and started trying all the different taco places, we found a lot of duds and a few good ones.  But if you have ever stalked us on Facebook, you would know that by far, our standard Sunday morning fix includes a stop at La PalmeraI have loved the hand made flour tortillas, the delicious carne guisada and friendly service since we got here, and we actually stopped trying other places. 

Sadly, tragedy struck the family that owned La Palmera and the place was sold to some folks that worked there.  A few cosmetic changes were made and certainly, the waitstaff changed, but for the most part, the recipes remained and we were pleased, for a while.  

Over the last few months though, we have seen a decline in service, and frankly, the food has been hit or miss.  We actually started going to other places for our Sunday morning tacos or, gasp, eating at home.  Our final visit for the foreseeable future was last Sunday when we nearly walked out before having our order taken.  We couldn't help but laugh with other customers who were experiencing crappy service.  One guy had his breakfast served nice and hot, but could not seem to make the waitress bring him a fork to eat with, even after he asked her twice!  Places go through rough patches and I only hope the best for La Palmera in the future, but there are enough other places to get a taco that we don't have to restrict ourselves. 

There is good news too.  I was completely impressed with Rocky's Grill in Devine from the first time we visited, and I can say in all honesty, we have never, ever been disappointed.  With our son in town, we decided to stop in since it had been a while, and of course, we all left completely happy.
 The entertainment for the evening was a guy with a guitar taking requests from the patrons singing some great old country favorites from Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Kieth Whitley and even Garth Brooks.  (sorry for the crappy picture) Between songs he would sip on freshly brewed coffee (wink, wink) and chat with folks.  It makes for such a comfortable environment. Rocky's is the type of place where you really could take a date for a quiet, romantic dinner, yet, you could just as easily feel comfortable going in in jeans and a t-shirt. 
Eva has given up on ordering anything adult sized and now orders from Rocky's children's menu.  She had some spaghetti and meatballs which was delicious and more than enough to eat.  If you were so inclined, you could get something from the large wine selection to make it that much more Italian.
 My son went with one of the evening specials, lemon catfish.  I'm more into fried, but just look at it - wonderful! 

Rocky's can be pretty fancy but there are times when all you want is a good burger.  Consistently, the kitchen puts out one of the most fantastic burgers you can find.  Starting with the fact that they ask you how you want it cooked (medium, please) and actually are willing to cook it to your taste rather than burn it, you know you are dealing with professionals who happen to love food.
This is not a frozen patty, and this is not some cheese you'd find in a 20 count individually wrapped package next to the bologna at HEB.  And don't forget the bread, cooked right there in the kitchen at Rocky's.  The bacon (not shown) was on a separate plate and was enough to feed a small family breakfast.  I'm pretty obsessive when it comes to burgers simply because I know that with each burger I eat, I am probably reducing my life expectancy by at least several hours. I don't have time for a bad burger, and neither does Rocky. 

So there you have it.  I know that I have raved about Rocky's before but if there is one thing I've learned over time, you can't count on every restaurant you enjoy to remain perfect forever.  But with Rocky's Grill, consistently awesome seems to be the plan.

If you want to recommend our next taco place to fall in love with, please leave a comment or send an e-mail.  And if you need directions to Rocky's, check out his website here.


Keith Alan K said...

We've recently made Rita's (Bandera Rd just south of Seneca) our go-to taco place. Their picadillo is amazing, good tortillas and excellent salsa and service. Surprisingly, they also have an italian menu but we haven't tried any. Pretty much gave up on half a dozen other taco joints since discovering Rita's. They close at 3 pm.

frankvw said...

I recommend Metro Basilica 2 at 7627 Culebra Rd (Culebra and 410). This is one of my favorite taco shops. I get tired of Tex-Mex and this place delivers real good California style food. Carnitas, Carne Asada and Al Pastor are all excellent. On the weekends they even have pozole. If you want ambiance this is not the place to go but if you want a good inexpensive meal I highly recommend it.

Albatross said...

Keith, I've wondered about Rita's. I drive by it just about every day, and I've often wondered if it's any good. I'll take you recommendation to heart and make the effort to try it sometime.

Dave said...

If were in the area, we'll have to try both those places. Thanks!


you know me..I love all things Pizza House..and especially love the onion rings or as Babs and I call them..crack rings..well for some unknown reason they changed the batter and the spices and are no longer the same..I'm going to have to break down and tell Jeanne I have a complaint about first ever.