June 1st, 2010
The Week That Was 5.30.10 (plus Memorial Day)
This weekend took me out to the fine state of Louisiana to celebrate the holy union of two friends. Congratulations to them, by the way. An added bonus of the destination wedding was being able to spend a couple nights on one of America’s most notorious stretches: Bourbon Street.
When the sun sets on New Orleans, Bourbon Street turns into an adult playground (not that there weren’t a fair number of underage stumblers among the pedestrians) and in fact it’s the raunchiest playground that I can think of. Houston gets a bad shake for having so many strip clubs, but Bourbon Street takes the (king) cake for having more than three dozen within 500 yards. But Jesus Freak or not; Moral Strategist or not; Uptightious Personious or not, the strip has more than it’s fair share of redeeming establishments. Most notably on my trip, the Funky Pirate where Big Al Carson takes on the blues on Friday and Saturday, Maison Bourbon Jazz Club and Lafitte’s all but make up for the debauch.
Now this is where I tend to disagree with a few of my friends. Whereas I like to seek out the places that seem unique to the city or area (listed above) they would rather make their way to find the 70’s and 80’s cover band elsewhere. I’ve heard them before. They’re called the Spazmatics and they’ve had a good run in Houston the last few years. But it got me thinking: Where would I send people for the unique Houston nightlife spots? La Carafe would be one. Dean’s Credit Clothing, downtown, would be another. Anvil? Griff’s? Leon’s Lounge? Where would you tell your out of town friends to check out while in the Bayou City?
Hans’ Hop-House (Paul)
My love of hoppy beer has been documented on The Loop Scoop at least once before in my trip with Richard to The Stag’s Head Pub. Things like that don’t just go away overnight… or in this case over three months worth of nights. When I found myself at Hans’ Bierhaus on Tuesday night, I made my circuit along the wall of taps sampling (if you call a full pint a sample) the IPAs and pale ales they offer. Starting with Stone IPA, making my way to Harpoon IPA, then over to the Breckenridge 471 Series IPA and finally ending with the kick-your-teeth-in hoppiness of the Flying Dog Brewing Company’s Double Dog Double Pale Ale. There’s no better compliment to a game of bocce on the back patio than a beverage that sucks the moisture right out of your mouth. After four such drinks it didn’t matter how close I could get to the pallino, I was bowling the game of my life. I’m pretty sure that the scoreboard reflected that victory though I guess the world will never know since the game was suspended due to frequent trips back to the bar for the next order.
Washington Corridor Meets the Pacific (Paul)
I’m officially a convert to the new smartphone era. After toting around a Blackberry Pearl for two years it was finally time to get on the bandwagon of phones that can actually perform better than a Commodore 64. Enter the HTC Incredible, which seems to be living up to its name. On Wednesday night it lived up to most of the hype when I forgot to bring my five-pound SLR up to Les Grival’s Kahve for dinner. You don’t really want to be “that guy” at the restaurant anyway. Big cameras tend to freak people out (then again “big” anything tends to have an equal effect). So, I was able to photograph Les Grival’s massive wood, 2X4 sculpture that stretches from wall to wall and floor to ceiling of the restaurant. After finishing a delicious Chargrill BBQ Pork Vermicelli (#29) I decided to try out the camera to some amazing results (which eventually ended up on the last Where’s Pauldo). Hopefully, the food and the sculpture will bring people in to one of the newest additions to the Washington corridor. If you’ve been to the Les Grival’s location in Midtown, you know that the cheap and good eats (we ate for two including an appetizer and drinks for less than $17) will be welcome on Houston’s newest magnet for the trendy.
Let The Outdoorsiness Begin! (Marc)
While none of my friends started cooking out until Monday, I was ready to enjoy the sunshine and Houston’s notorious humidity on Saturday. After spending most of the day inside trying to get through Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, I realized that as much as I wanted to finish the novel, I couldn’t stay inside anymore. So I packed up the wife and kids… or dog, and headed up to West Alabama Ice House to lay claim to a picnic table and a beer. Sitting outside with a Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout and some friends made for a great way to spend a nice afternoon and relaxing kick off to the three day weekend. WAIH is infused with the southern hospitality that Houston’s known for, so don’t be surprised when you strike up a conversation with the people at your neighboring picnic benches. Even the pooches are friendly, although we did catch one dog marking his territory on a baby stroller. I took the opportunity to work on my hoops game but only managed to embarrass myself. There was a reason I never played basketball.
Second Place is the First Almost Winner (Paul)
The Memorial Day Gumbo Cook-Off is something that I look forward to every year. It’s a time when I pretend like I’m involved with the creation of a fantastic creole concoction by standing around the pot and trying to get people to vote for our team. Truth be told, I didn’t even do much of that this year. I was too busy filling myself with the offerings of the 14 other teams to be directing traffic to our Duck Hunt/A-Team… team. Thank you to everyone who showed up. An even bigger thank you goes out to those of you who showed up AND voted for Team #10 as the best overall. In the end, we (well, the three chefs) walked away with the Chef’s Choice, Second Overall distinction and a gift basket full of Saint Arnold beer and other goodies. My gift was a belly full of gumbo and beer and the promise that next year I would bring in enough people to make sure we won the popular vote. Mark it down on your calendars now. We’ll surely be putting out the APB again next year trying to attract a few more Loopsters to the event which appeals to the whole family with their moonwalk outside and strawberry basil margaritas and zydeco band inside. Then again, I shouldn’t really have to be telling you to go to Under the Volcano for anything. If you’ve been to the bar you know it speaks for itself on any given night, not just the special occasions.
Free Beer? Free Press!
After sleeping off the excitement of second place at Volcano, I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. The first order of business was to find a Houston restaurant open on Memorial Day. The second piece of business was to find one that had a nice outdoor area. The third was to find the motivation to make myself presentable. King Biscuit in the Heights fixed me up on points one and two. For number three, I was on my own. With the clock pressing on 2PM we made our way down to White Oak to the colorful digs of King Biscuit only to run into a number of people that we had seen the night before. Much to my delight, two of them were wearing their brand new shirts provided by The Loop Scoop. A “Keep Houston Corporate” slogan and “I Mosquito Houston” brand were staring at me across from the long table our friends had commandeered for the whole afternoon, which is never a bad thing. With our friends focusing on Hurricanes and Bloody Mary’s we took a stab at the menu ordering chips and queso, a black bean burger and a King Biscuit club sandwich. Though the food didn’t live up to expectations, drinks always seem to make up for it, especially when our server brought out four pitchers of Bud and Bud Light on the house. Notions of failed food were thrown out the window. After a quick conversation with Rebecca, our gracious server, I gleaned that King Biscuit is the place to come for some fantastic jazz on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Danielle Reich leads a band on Tuesday which lets anyone dropping in on the evening take over the microphone from time to time. On Wednesday’s Reich moves the performance from the bar area to the dining room playing more classical jazz for the patrons who attend. I may have to go back as early as this week just to see what I’ve been missing.