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You can’t spell happy with Pappy.

7 Dec

The purpose of this blog is to let readers know about all the wonderful little hidden gems this city has to offer in terms of great food and drink.  And one of my pastimes is going out to eat and finding new places to enjoy.  A new restaurant opened up on Burnet Rd recently in my neighborhood and of course it is my duty to check it out.

The place is called Pappy’s Bar and Grill and it inhabits this inconspicuous corner in a strip mall by the Allandale HEB that seems destined to fail.  In the 9 years I have lived here, I have seen that corner spot change hands so many times.  Not sure why, could be that it’s not easily visible since HEB commands the major presence there or the fact that it’s near Kids n Cats, a store that on the inside looks  like a yard sale vomited or where the “Made in China “crap goes to die.  In fact, the owner of Pappy’s apparently was getting really desperate to get customers through the doors that he decided to park himself up on the roof and play his guitar to get people’s attention.  Gotta give him props for trying.

So he got my attention and Ross and I decided to give Pappy’s a shot.  And I really, really wish I had good things to report.  But not in this case.  Oh where should I start?

First off, the place was dark.  Not dark as in mood lighting – dark as in, is this place actually open?  Part of the restaurant looked like it was closed off due to construction or a hazmat accident – not really sure what to make of that.   The waitress comes over right away – okay, prompt service, that’s a plus (though there  really wasn’t anyone else commanding her attention).  She takes our drink orders and hands us the menu.  This is where we should have faked an illness and walked out.  The menu did not give me any confidence in the food since it was a laminated card displaying large photos of the food.  If you’re going to have photos,  be sure they are representative of what you will actually be eating.   You can probably guess by my tone that they were not.  Plus, the menu just looked cheesy.  The food options were incredibly unhealthy – not a single salad or vegetable on there.  Only a burger,  a couple of sandwiches, chicken strips, pizza, hot wings, queso – you get my drift.

Then we got the food.  I ordered a cheeseburger with fries and I think the only way to accurately describe it is to say it was the same quality you would get at the concession stand at the zoo.  Seriously.  The meat patty didn’t even come close to covering the surface area of the bun.  Ross ordered the chicken strips and they weren’t bad, but hey, they’re chicken strips.

Come on Pappy, this is Austin.  If you are planning on serving up some American grub, you’ve got to do better than that,  especially when you’ve got an awesome burger joint practically next door (Phil’s Icehouse).  But I don’t want to just dish out the bad, I want to give a solution for you Pappy.  Because I want to see you succeed -the more restaurants I have in my backyard, the happier I am.

So I’ve got two words for you: SportsBar.  If this place was changed up to a sports bar I bet it would rock!  First of all, this endeavor would not require much.  The space at Pappy’s is ample – in fact, they already have a room set up with two very nice pool tables and darts.  Done.  Second, there is also already a very long bar with three huge flat screen TV’s.  Done.  All you need are more TV’s along the other wall, add more brewery taps, improve the food quality with some healthier options  and serve up good drink specials during game days and you’ve got yourself a business.  Besides, who doesn’t love a sports bar in this town?

I doubt the owner of Pappy’s Bar and Grill will ever read this, which is a shame because I think it would work.  Hmmm…maybe after the place goes under, I’ll take over the lease and turn it into a sports mecca.  Who’s in?

Pappy's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

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Happy Hour doesn’t get any simplier than this

3 Dec

One evening I decided to stick close to home and called up my good friend Melissa Skorpil, who also lives in my hood, to join me for a happy hour.  We decided to check out Simplicity Wine and Eats, one of the fun establishments on Burnet Rd.  We showed up at 5:30 and the place was pretty empty.  But that soon changed and as the sun went down, the atmosphere went up.  Nostalgic tunes from Depeche Mode were playing overhead, though not too loud so we could actually hold a conversation – what a concept.  Folks started filing in, with a  group of about 15 lively people pushing tables together to create their own party.  Simplicity has a modern and simplistic feel to it, nothing pretentious.  It lacks a little in style compared to other wine bars I’ve been to, but is very comfortable and functional. 

The one thing that I admire about this place and helps it stand out from the crowd is their philosophy of creating an almost zero waste restaurant.  On their website they state that “we compost all of the disposable dishes and utensils (made of renewable corn & bamboo) & we recycle all our wine and beer bottles. Simplicity is a 100+ seat restaurant that only produces 3 bags of landfill trash per week!”  Really??  That is amazing to me because I know of a two person household, well…really a two person, two cat, two dog, two turtle and one gecko  household, who produces about the same amount!  So either they are really eco-friendly or we, um, I mean the other people, are completely wasteful.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say both are probably the case.  But I digress…

The point is that Simplicity is really trying to do their part in helping the environment and I can really get behind that idea.  Their happy hour is Tuesday through Friday, 4 to 7 pm, and offers half off of all starters, $5 wines by the glass, 15% off of all bottles of wine, $2 for all bottles or drafts of beer and $5 pitchers.  We opted for a pitcher of Blue Moon, which is the equivalent of 3 beers for only $5.  That is pretty darn cheap!  We also got a couple of appetizers, the spinach artichoke dip and papas aioli (thick cut potato wedges with garlic aioli dip).  The food here doesn’t have a decadent appearance since it is served in disposable bowls and plates with disposable utensils, but the dip was very fresh tasting and the potatoes were yummy.  The prices are very reasonable and really fantastic during happy hour – our pitcher of beer and two starters cost up a whopping $11!  Seriously.

Simplicity Wine and Eats

photo by Melissa Skorpil

Melissa and I had a great time and we both agreed that Simplicity Wine and Eats is worth coming back to.  Melissa, who is a photographer, brought along her camera and took a shot of me enjoying the beer.  Melissa is a great photographer and she specializes in portraits and food photography-handy for me to have a food photographer as a friend for this blog, eh?  If you’re interested in learning about Melissa’s photography services, view her website, Skorpil Photography.

Until next time, get happy Austin!

Simplicity Wine & Eats on Urbanspoon

Sushi with spurs on

19 Nov

One thing I love about Austin is that you really don’t have to travel too far to get great food.  In the past few years my own neighborhood has really flourished in the bar/restaurant department.  The southernmost part of Burnet Road, now nicknamed “Lo-Burn” (kinda funny name if you ask me),  has several great little local eateries and bars to choose from.    And what does that mean??   That means I don’t have to go far to get my food fix.

The newest place to open up in Lo-Burn is this great spot called Roll On Sushi Diner.  This is not your typical diner though it does have a Texas accent.

Pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

 Roll On serves up your traditional sushi rolls such as the salmon roll, california roll and spicy tuna roll.  But what really makes this place new and exciting are what I like to call their “Texafied” rolls!  Creative little gems like the Cholesta Roll – chicken fried steak wrapped up like a sushi roll and served up with cream gravy (of course), The Beefy Texan – spicy BBQ mayo covered brisket surrounded by rice, avocado and wasabi cole slaw and one of my favorites, The Grouch – grilled chicken with caramelized onions and green chiles.  And let’s not forget that all important course-dessert!  How about The Elvis,  a roll deep fried and filled with banana, bacon and peanut butter, drizzled in chocolate.  Trust me on this, you will not be disappointed with that one!

Yellowtail nigiri

Yellowtail nigiri

All of the plates are set at a fixed price, ranging from $3.95 to $6.95, which makes this diner  affordable at any time.  But they do have happy hour as well, which makes it really affordable.  This week my hubby, Ross,  and I checked out their happy hour, which runs Monday – Friday from 5 to 7 pm.  We feasted on

The LoBurn

The LoBurn Roll

yellowtail nigiri, pork dumplings  ($2.95 for each plate)  and a delicious roll called The LoBurn – shrimp, unagi, jalapeno and green onions tempura fried (also $2.95).  I also enjoyed a nice glass of pinot noir for 5 bucks (glasses of wine $1 off during HH).   Ross and I had a great meal for under $30-not too shabby for sushi I’d say.  We are definitely going to make Roll On Sushi Diner one of our staples!

Roll On Sushi Diner on Urbanspoon

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