February 28, 2009

All Thaied Up - Andaman Thai

If you were looking for lecherous tales of Thai lovlies, you're at the wrong site.
If you are looking for details on the excellence that Denton, Texas has to offer, read on my dear...

I’ve mentioned that there is currently no good Chinese food to be had in Denton, and you know how much that pains me. Happily, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Thai food, and today we’ll be discussing Andaman Thai.

Located on the east end of Hickory Street, in the gentrifying Industrial Street area (near Fuzzy's Taco Shop), the newly renovated exterior (and interior!) should prepare you for the lovely dining experience that awaits you.

Your first clue might be the unusual persimmon and cinnamon colored interior. This combination would never work in your living room, but somehow works beautifully in this restaurant. It simultaneously lets you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, and prepares you - subconsciously - for a taste adventure that may also be unusual, but will work deliciously.

What do I mean? Well the steamed (and slightly sticky) chive dumplings may sound and look a little weird, but they are delectable. Equally delecatble? The pork dumplings, offered fried or steamed. Equally weird seeming? The poached banana dessert. Consisting of sliced bananas cooked in coconut cream, this dish sounds like nothing, right? Tastes like Shangri-La. Believe me.

The crab cake appetizers were phenomenal, but lack of demand caused them to be removed from the menu. Intrigued? Ask the chef about them. Perhaps interest will cause him to reconsider. Until then, how about the shrimp and chive dumplings might suffice.

Happily, Thai iced-tea is still offered. What’s that? Imagine the strongest, blackest tea you can, into which sweetened, condensed milk has been added, but not blended. The tea is so stout that it doesn’t automatically mix with the milk, but instead causes it to form a sort of cumulous layer. Sounds weird; looks weird; is divine. Divine rocket fuel – this drink will start you up. The curries: red; green; and yellow are all equally fine, and I honestly can’t tell you which is my favorite. And, of course, most of the the mains can be vegetarian friendly, made with tofu. I tend to think the whole fishes are a little overcooked, but they are flavored and dressed so deliciously that they are completely worth ordering.

Lastly, and liquidly, if you’d like something other than the Thai iced-tea, which can also double as a nice dessert, wine and beer – including Thai beers – are available. Perfecto.
Check it out.

Andaman Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

February 7, 2009

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House

In a small corner of far north Denton County, a large barn-like building houses possibly the best fried chicken you will ever eat.

Though just one of the now seven Babe’s, and not even the first, this is the Babe’s I think of as the ‘original one’.
Simple. It’s the first one I ever went to; it’s still my favorite, and I think it alone keeps Sanger from drying up and blowing away. You know anything that contributes positively to Denton County is cool with me.

Located on 4th Street, in down town Sanger, Babe’s is so influential on its little corner of the world that the gift shop next door stays open late Friday and Saturday nights to catch the spontaneous trade from the folks milling about outside waiting to get tables in Babe’s. And I know that strategy works for them. I saw one dinner companion drop around $200 on some things that just caught his eye. Additionally, a new gallery (art and jewelry – good prices!) opened up across the street, and does the exact same thing! I’d say they’re both lovely places to kill some time.

Now, because your friendly neighborhood Dentonista loves you, I will tell you:
Do not go to Babe’s if you are dieting, or on any sort of ‘eating plan’
Do not go thinking, “I’ll just have one piece.”
You won’t.
Do not think you will be able to pass on the biscuits and honey (or sorghum).
You won’t.
And once you’ve crossed that line, why not have the mashed potatoes, cream gravy, creamed corn, and beans and greens? Even if you could resist round one of the sides, served family-style, you’d never be able to resist when your waitress comes around with refills.
Oh, and do not go thinking you’ll just have some of the Smoked Chicken, to cut down on the calories. The only reason to go to Babe’s is to get down on some fried chicken. (In a pinch, I’ll go you the Fried Chicken Tenders – who doesn’t love boneless? And they come with green pepper-infused honey mustard!) I understand they also serve Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Catfish, and Pot Roast, but obviously I have no first-hand knowledge of those things.

Know what else? Babe’s is BYOB. I'm tempted to suggest some wine coolers or a bottle of Boone’s to go with fried chicken but then, you are not going to Babe’s to slum. You are going there for the honestly good food.
Food like your Mom would cook.
If your Mom was raised on, then moved off, a farm to attend college, get married, have kids and a career.
Yes the mashed potatoes are so-creamy-they-must-be-instant (“You try working all day, then mashing potatoes!”), and the creamed corn comes from a can ("SO convenient!"). But the beans and greens taste fresh; the chicken is as perfectly fried as it ever will be; the iceberg lettuce salad is dressed with the vinegar, sugar, and vegetable oil dressing your grandmother used to make, and the biscuits are lightly crisp on the outside and tender-on-the-inside, in a way only that can only be made from scratch.

Fetching and stepping all this food (and all those refills) takes a lot of hustle, and it is carried out be the hardest working teen-age waitresses you’ll ever see.
YFND did some time in the purgatory called waitressing, and I don’t think I ever worked as hard as these girls work every shift.
Go prepared to tip like a drunken rock star. They deserve it. These girls, these young WOMEN, work hard in a town that doesn’t have many jobs.
Did I mention they sing too?
Oh yes.
A recent visit had a waitress warbling, “Stand By Your Man” to a packed house. No one else seemed to twig to the irony of a teenager singing that particular song.
In 2009.
She DID have a good voice, as do all the singing waitresses there.

And when you’re not enjoying a live floorshow, you can people watch (maybe a game of people-watching bingo? Camouflage? Check. Granny-mullet? Check. Overalls? Bingo!) while listening to music from the bubbling juke box. Mostly playing top 40 hits – from the 50s – they are a tad more progressive with the Country music, reaching all the way into the 70s. Oh don’t front; you love it, and you know ALL the words!

One last bit of HIGH praise from you friendly and frugal neighborhood Dentonista – Babe’s is as cheap as it is good. A fried chicken dinner, with a full round of all you can eat sides and their stout ice tea cost like $13.
You can’t beat that with a stick. AND you can afford to mad tip that waitress, Big Shot. Go on, strap on the feedbag and see that I’m right.

Babe's Chicken Dinner House on Urbanspoon