Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Hour at The Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen

I have a confession to make.

This was actually not my first visit to Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen.



I have another confession to make: This was actually not my second visit to Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen.



It was my third visit to Queen Vic Pub & Kitchen. 



*wince*

I'm sorry for holding out on you, but it was for good reason I swear! My first visit was about a year ago with my friend Megan, but it was our first friend date, and I was nervous about taking pictures of my food in front of her (I know I've said it before, but dating is exhausting, right?). I didn't reveal my little hobby to her until our next date at Oporto (which is, fun fact, also owned by the Queen Vic people). The second time I ate at Queen Vic was on a first [actual] date, though it ended up being a first and last date, so lesson learned always take pictures of your food.

Seriously, who invented dating?

But in an inadvertent celebration of our 1-year friend-aversary, Megan and I ended up where it all began for happy hour and had a lovely time! As soon as we sat down, this assumedly inebriated woman came over to our table and exclaimed, "You are the two most beautiful girls I've ever seen!" I mean, Megan is exceptionally pretty, and I guess I washed my hair that day, so we obliged when she asked if she could take a picture eleven pictures of us.


Did I say I washed my hair? Sorry, I meant "brushed" my hair. Also, I should probably pay more attention to what's going on with the buttons on my shirt from here on out.

help.me.

Queen Vic Pub is one of those wonderful Houston establishments that offers up one helluva happy hour. With amazing bar bites that range from $4-$7, it really is a steal.


While I've loved everything I've ever eaten at Queen Vic, the veggie samosas we ordered that night were pretty unremarkable, so I'm going to get that dish out of the way first. There were plenty of veggies inside, but there was nothing to adhere the filling together. Some cheese or a chutney probably would have helped execute them better. It simply tasted like cooked veggies wrapped in a wonton, with a side of marinara for good measure.

Again, this is the ONLY thing I've had there that I have not been a fan of.

So onto the good:


I almost don't want to say anything about the curried chips because I truly feel that words alone will never do this dish justice. One bite of these, and you'll be hearing George Harrison singing "Myyyy sweeeeeet Lorddddd" for the rest of your days. You know how I'm forever transfixed by the Bangkok fries at Boheme? Well, I think...(drumroll)...they've actually been dethroned.

I KNOW.

Because these fries are absolutely out of this world! The curried chips at Queen Vic consist of house cut fries, tomato "mother curry", coconut milk, and peas, all topped with a gorgeous fried egg on top. The curry has some substantial heat and is so beautifully paired with the runny egg yolk, that all I could do was tell those magnificent fries Iiiii really wanna see youuuuu, I really wanna know youuuu...


Oh, and THIS little sucker.

After dying of happiness in a pile of curried chips, Megan and I feasted on the vada pav sliders - Vegetarian potato & mushroom cakes with cilantro chutney, tamarind, and goat cheese in a mini brioche bun. Again, Queen Vic hits it out of the park with this one. These sliders were absolutely STUNNING. The vegetarian cakes were light and complexly textured. The creamy, tart goat cheese and the tangy chutney brought out even more nuances and flavors of the dish. They didn't stand a chance with us two.

If Queen Vic Pub is not in your happy hour rotation, I suggest adding it to the list pronto. Their dishes are complex, exciting, and full of flavor, and the price is right. Also worth noting, our server that night was awesome. It's always a great time!


Haaaaallelujah....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vacation Days: Panama City, Panama

Well folks, this is going to be my last post rounding up my trip to South and Central America. Last month I spent a night in Lima, played in Cusco for a couple of days, hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and finished everything up by visiting my beautiful, bright, wonderful friend Esther in Panama City, Panama. I met Esther in graduate school in NYC and had not seen her in a few years, so this was a lovely way to end my trip!

The view flying in. How is that even real?


Apparently there's a big canal there...?

(I'm only kidding guys. There's no canal there.)


Here's something I need to say right up front: The food in Panama is absolutely out of this world.


Tea time at the adorable Dodo Bon Pan Cafe was just lovely.


But doesn't it look like part of the right side of my head is missing in this photo? That's unfortunate and creepy. At least the bombshell sitting next to me makes up for it.


It may also be worth mentioning that on top of eating all of the amazing food ever, I was now able to drink all of the amazing alcohol ever since I no longer had a 4 day trek coming up and "altitude" to deal with.


(I have no idea why "altitude" received air quotes)


(becuase yes of course I physically made air quotes with my fingers as I typed out " a l t i t u d e "


And not only did I get to see Esther in Panama, but I got to see Esther in Panama on her birthday weekend! Which meant we celebrated with food and drinks at an incredible place called El Atelier in Casco Viejo, the charming historic part of Panama City. 


^ And no joke, I'm still having withdrawals from that bread basket.



^ Um, and that pesto gnocchi. DEAD. I died. Death by gnocchi.


^ I don't know either, but I feel exceptionally good about it.


And that wraps up my crazy, amazing South/Central American trip! Thanks for reading along and letting me relive all of it with you through my photos! It was seriously the most wonderful vacation, and I am so fortunate to have been able to experience it.


But seriously, that gnocchi.

*All photos were taken with my iPhone 5.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Yard House

Is it just me, or is October whizzing by?!


Scratch that - Is it just me, or is 2014 whizzing by?!

(Is "whiz" even an acceptable term to use in a food blog, in any decade other than the nineties, by a non-teenage boy or Stephanie from Full House?)

So here we are in the thick of football season, and I have yet to find my NYC equivalent in sports bars here in Houston, and I'm missing buffalo wings like whoa (#vegetarianproblems, can I get an amen?).

But then Yard House appeared and forever changed my life.


The first time I went to YH to catch a game was with my boyfriend Jon. The idea of going to a huge chain restaurant/bar for game-watching isn't generally my jam, but we were driving back from Katy that particular day, incredibly hungry, had heard great things, and figured we'd give it a whiz (<~~nope). The inside is massive, and there are screens everywhere. Bingo.

And the food and drinks? GAH.


I still have romantic dreams at night about the shandies at Pondicheri, so when I saw the west coast shandy on their menu, I pounced on it. And side note: Their beer list is ridiculously extensive. Like, there's literally 78294635 beers you can choose from. But this shandy was top notch - Refreshing, sweet, slightly bitter from the grapefruit (which I generally don't even like), and light. Oh, and served in a GOBLET, hello.

Jon has been on a Moscow Mule kick ever since having one at Down the Street, so the second time we went to Yard House (along with his friend Adam) we got mules. And when I say "Jon has been on a Moscow Mule kick," I mean, he had a few mules one night, went out the next day and bought copper mugs, a huge thing of vodka, ginger beer, mint, etc., and proceeded to make them for me and my entire family. And now at every restaurant we go to, the first thing he asks the server is, "Do you guys have Moscow Mules?"

"No sir, we don't serve Moscow Mules at Luby's."


Yard House has an entire section of the menu dedicated to mules, and Jon almost had a heart attack when he saw it. I ordered the Hawaiian mule, with pineapple vodka in it. Like the shandy, it was light and refreshing, though I think I'd just stick with the standard mule next time.


This spinach cheese dip is stupid. Crispy on top, and extra ooey gooey inside, the dip is loaded with creamy goodness. It's rich and tangy, and pairs beautifully with the crispy flat bread served with it. An awesome, solid (liquid?) appetizer. So awesome we actually ordered it both times we went!

Oh, and remember my despair about the buffalo wings?


There is an entire massive vegetarian menu at Yard House that includes VEGETARIAN BUFFALO WINGS. Guys, you don't even understand the magnitude of this. And not only do they simply exist which is exciting in and of itself, they are awesome. Adam ordered regular boneless buffalo wings and compared the two, and said he could not taste the difference. Spicy, saucy, and - I'll say it - meaty, they beyond exceeded all of my expectations and fairytale dreams of what a soy buffalo wing has to offer.

Oh also, this:


Jon got this chicken pot pie that was bigger than both of our heads combined (see fork and cell phone for size comparison). He claims it was delicious.

Yard House is located in the gorgeous City Centre complex, and is definitely worth a visit. What it lacks in that homey "mom and pop" feel I so love in a dive-y pub, it makes up for tenfold with its wide variety of drinks, gajillion televisions, and phenomenal food. I am definitely a fan.


So whiz on over!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vacation Days: Cusco, Peru

Hey there! I would to go back in time a few weeks and share some more pictures from my trip to Peru and Panama! I gave you an overview of my hike on the Inca Trail and my whirlwind of a stay in Lima, and now I'd like to show you the photos I took during my 2-night stay in the quaint, charming, beautiful city of Cusco. I stayed in Cusco (known as the heart of the Andean religion) a few nights to acclimate myself to the altitude (which was NO joke) before heading out on the Inca Trail.

Okay, I'll stop yammering!


Aww, doesn't my little (giant) backpack just scream excitement? Not pictured: the two other bags I brought with me. Because I'm a pack mule and a disaster when it comes to packing. Moving along.

The beautiful view landing in Cusco, AKA: Sweet baby Jesus I'm going to be hiking something similar to that s.o.b. soon.


When I arrived at my hostel they greeted me with a map of the city and coca tea, which is supposed to help you adjust to the altitude. I drank a lot of it while I was there. Fun fact: I also had the most bizarre dreams on the trip, which I later found out from my guide was a result of drinking coca tea, which, oh did you know is what a certain substance that rhymes with "propane" is made out of? Um, nope. Didn't know.

(Mom, it's not the same, I swear.)

I kept seeing these signs everywhere, which I (*ahem* logically) assumed meant "no trumpets." After sipping on about 7 coca teas, I realized it actually means "no honking your darn car horns."


(Mom, I'm kidding, RELAX.)


The soup there is legit.

SO IS THE GNOCCHI.

I paid roughly $1.75 to get my picture taken with this alpaca baby. I was so excited, and I posted it all over my Instagram and Facebook with a million exclamation points, declaring to the world my love for alpacas. Imagine how awesome I felt when I showed this picture to my guide Ludwig on the Inca Trail, he laughed, and said, "Oh Kimberly. This is not an alpaca. This is a sheep."


Let's forget that whole "Kim has no idea what a sheep looks like" thing ever happened.

We're going to call this next section, "Kim Discovers what 'Perspective' in Photography is, and Demonstrates it Over and Over Again on Some Churches".

Apologies in advance.


I actually went to mass on Sunday though I am neither a) Catholic, nor b) Spanish-speaking, so I had little to no idea what was actually going on. But the church was beautiful, and I did get a few "Please Don't Let Me Die on the Inca Trail" prayers in, and I did in fact live, so all in all I think it was a good decision.


 
This picture was taken on my first day in Cusco because I was hunched over in the fetal position in a corner and needed a break. You see, after drinking my initial propane tea, the hostel manager urged me to take a nap to help acclimatize. I said, "Nah, I'm good! I want to go explore!" So I went exploring, tried to walk up this hill, and ended up doubled over in an alley, trying to rediscover air.

And that's that! I absolutely fell in love with Cusco, and I definitely recommend visiting if you ever get the opportunity. The city is so charming, the people are warm and inviting, and it is rich with such culture and history. If you hike the Inca Trail, I recommend staying in Cusco at least two nights beforehand, but actually more if you can. The altitude is seriously a force to be reckoned with.


But leave your trumpet at home.

*All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and my iPhone.