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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three cheers or more for The Tavern on Hulen

Last night at The Tavern I a wonderful supper--the best deviled eggs in town to begin with. Do you, like me, loved deviled eggs but hate the fuss of making them? These are superb. For an entree, Betty, my dining and exploring friend, and I split sea scallops with a field greens salad. The scallops, served in a white wine/caper sauce, were cooked to perfection--in other words, not too much. When the waiter told u s it was scallops served with salad, I said we'd probably want another salad. He advised us to wait and see how much salad there was--and my goodness, he was right. Generous doesn't even describe it. Absolutely delicious. Five-year-old Jacob had a peanut butter and banana sandwich and a huge heap of French fries which he meticulously dipped in ketchup one by one--good thin crisp fries. And he was served an ice cream sandwich on the house. This relatively new place knows how to keep kids happy. And who served us our dinner? The owner/chef himself who then stopped by several times to make sure everything was all right.
This isn't the first time we've eaten there. Betty and I ate there last week and liked it so well we went back. We chose it last week because I announced what I really wanted was a crab cake--called a restaurant that sometimes but not always has them--no luck. Called another and struck out. So we decided to just wing it. As it turned out, the chef's special was two crab cakes--delicious and meaty, with almost no, if any, filler and light, light seasoning so what you tasted was crab. And yet they held together nicely and din't fell into a pile of crab chunks on the plate. I had a tomato/Maytag cheese salad with a mild vinaigrette which to me was a perfect complement to the crab cakes. I have had their black beans as a side several times and think they're the best I've ever eaten. We began.that meal with deviled eggs, which made us realize how much we liked them--a puzzle though that they serve five halves. I would think four would be a logical serving. I can't tell you what is different about those eggs than the ones I make at home, except for surely perfectly cooked crisp bacon crumbled over them. Last night, Betty ordered an extra helping to take home to her husband.
One other time, quite some time ago, we had beef tacos--long enough ago that I can't remember much about them except they were very good and were sort of open-faced tacos on flat tortillas. Another time at lunch with someone I had the blue cheeseburger--excellent but way too much for me to eat at one sitting.
The same is true of their club sandwich, though it truly is one of the best I've had. Thick bread, sourdough, and thin layers of ham, turkey, sliced cheese, tomato, avocado and lettuce. All covered with a secret but really good sauce.  It's also too much for one serving, and I have to find someone to share it with--I can take it home, but it doesn't travel as well as say a cheeseburger. I have the bad habit of fixating on one dish at a restaurant, and I'm in danger of fixating on that club sandwich, but there are so many wonderful choices--steaks, ribs, enchildadas, pork tacos, BLT saslad, crab cake salad, fish tacos, a Reuben sandwich, and a sandwich of the day which changes according to the chef's whim. There's also a breakfast menu for Sundays--huevos rancheros, migas, roast beef hash, etc. My neighbors love it.
As I said to Betty, I think I may take all my meals there from now on. At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, everything we've had has been delicious. I understand the owner/chef is from San Angelo, where his father was in the restaurant business. If that's true, he learned well.
I woiuld never of course ask the chef for the ingredients of that secret sauce on the club sandwich, but recently I made a sauce to try on hamburgers. It's sort of like Thousand Island dressing or the sauce you used to get on Big Macs back in the days you weren't afraid of the calorie and fat count--but better and homemade. I later discovered it's terrific on an open-faced sandwich of ham or corned beef and sliced Swiss cheese and probably would be good on a lot of other things--like crab cakes, maybe?. And so simple:

 1/2 c, mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. dill pickle relish
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt

The orignal recipe called for a jalopeno but I left it out. Sometimes I substitute canned chopped green chillies, but somehow I didn't want even that in this sauce.
For those of you in Fort Worth, The Tavern is in the space once occupied by Snookie's. For those of you out of town, it's worth a trip to Fort Worth.

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