August 19th, 2009
Chatter’s Cafe and Bistro: If Downtown Is Your Gibraltar, Go Around It
In 7 Words: Cappellini, Clay, مراكش, Lamb, Plush, Crisp, ap' óla
I’ve heard a proverb drift in and out of use in my years to the affect of, “pay attention to how a man treats his dog, for kindness towards a simple beast is more than any words of his true heart.” Why it has stayed with me I can not say, perhaps it is because I have a very trying 1 year old puppy. I seek out dog friendly places from time to time for pleasant Sunday afternoons such as this one. When by word of mouth I hear Chatter’s Cafe & Bistro is one such place, I have to experience it. When I find out they create incredible Mediterranean cuisine, I make the effort.
As I drive down Washington from I-10, I notice the sparsely populated street with its tall grass and cracked sidewalks stretching west from our destination as the Aegean from Greece. I notice downtown on the horizon blocked only by the Art Car Museum with its quirky reverence for the strange in the foreground. We drive slowly, windows down, one very excited dog smiling at the passersby. I arrive to meet a small group for the tail end of brunch (it ends at 3:00p.m., genius for the late rising). I enter Chatter’s Cafe and Bistro through the patio, past the white hostess stand, hit by a rush of cool air and delicious smells. Mediterranean food has always inspired me not just for its taste, but by its hearty influences, binding three continents together through common ingredients.
I pass the bar on my left and through the first doorway in search of the last two members of my party, I notice that same cross continental exuberance is captured here. Warm walls, rich clay tile floors and brightly colored paintings elevate Chatter’s above the common cafe. The scents of basil and lamb only serve as a catalyst for my ravenous hunger. The deep, plush booths on the front wall look as soft and enveloping as the clouds on this fine August day. I manage to find the remaining stragglers in the low natural light of the back room and ask a waitress where we might all sit with our k-9 companion. She recommends outdoors for our bi-genus group. We move a couple tables together outside, underneath multiple fans and take our seats around the tables.
Our waitress provides us with large glasses of iced tea and ice water as we peruse our menus for the perfect mid-day meal. We decide on an appetizer of grilled pita bread and mixed vegetable with hummus as our stomachs growl in unison. The conversation flows fast as if set in motion by the warmth of the air. Phrases bouncing off one another, some to be captured, others to be wisped away by the fans overhead. The easy style of our surroundings is conducive to the random. Lost in words we hardly notice our waitress bringing a bowl of water for the puppy, which has become a tangle of leash and legs between our ankles and chairs.
Our appetizers arrive soon after. We order two Gyros Pitas with fries, two Mediterranean Wraps one with Pasta Salad, the other with fries, the Smoked Turkey Ciabatta and the Chatter’s Club (one member of our group insists that, “The true test of any place is their Club, if they can’t get it right, it’s a waste a’ my time.”) We ravage our food as quickly as it came leaving little room for further conversation. The portions are the perfect size as it is enough to fill, yet not enough to take home. It is a welcome change from the usually over-sized plates found elsewhere.
We sit with empty platters, our thoughts marinating in the harmonious state found after such a delicious meal is consumed. We muster the energy to break our thoughts from the food and dive into the afternoon’s plans. Our waitress casually asks if we will be getting dessert. Not one of us has the room as sweet as our teeth may be. It’s agreed that we might have just stumbled upon the best Mediterranean any of us has encountered so far.
The check arrives sometime after we decline on dessert. To our delight the bill for 6 of us is just over $50. Not bad. As the humid breeze intertwines with the fan blades we get up refreshed and relaxed. Where do we go from here? Perhaps a stroll through Memorial Park? Whatever the choice, this afternoon is shaping up to be a good one.
Where – Washington Heights (140 South Heights Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77007) View Map
What – A Gastronomic Tour of the Mediterranean
Wear – What You Like During the Day, At Night Slightly Nicer (Greeks in sandals might have you thinking this shoe option is condoned, it’s not)
Who – Friends, Family, Enemies and the Indifferent
How Much – More Than Reasonable
When – Mon-Thurs; 11:00-10:00 Fri; 11:00-11:00 Sat; 10:00-11:00 Sun; 10:00-9:00
Web – http://www.chatterscafe.com/