[SAT] Good, Quick Lunch Around Fredericksburg & Callaghan
- MPH Aug 21, 2007 01:35 PM
Does anyone know where to get a really good, quick lunch in this area near the Medical Center? No chains, please.
I tried some sandwich shop in the same small shopping-center as Paul's Pizza Roma. It wasn't great: just "Boar's Head" lunch meats on grocery-store-like bread. Is Paul's Pizza Roma any good? Or Bob's Smokehouse, which is also in that shopping center? I think Thai Pikul, Siam Delight, Beijing Express, Lai Wah's Place, and Wok-n-Roll are nearby. I know about Bistro Time, but that's not exactly quick. Right now, take-out from Chacho's (Callaghan just south of I-10) is my best idea.
I'd greatly appreciate any suggestions.
I don't really know that area that well or anything, but when I was visiting there we drove across town or went downtown for better food. Sorry I couldn't be more help.
re: Sam Spade
Thanks! That's in the same general area and will be an easy trip. Do you have any favorite dishes at Pam's that you’d recommend?
Now that you have me thinking outside the box, as it were, I vaguely recall a place called the Courtyard Cafe on Huebner Road between Floyd Curl and USAA Boulevard. It used to be pretty good, though it's been a couple of years since my last visit. There was also a Greek place in a strip shopping-center on Babcock at Eckhert Road. I think the name was “It’s Greek to Me,” or something corny like that. I'd appreciate any updates on these places.
If you are going to Pam's get any of the desserts as they are all amazing. I love the german chocolate cake. I love to get their salads, the asian chicken or the thai beef, and then load up on fresh bread and their homemade strawberry lemonade. Every once and a while they do a mean Tom Kai Gai soup, I get it when its on the menu.
I’m following up with a report on Pam's. I went there for dinner recently and enjoyed the food. [The restaurant is open for dinner Thursday-Saturday; lunch is served Tuesday-Saturday.] Pam’s has the menu and vibe of an upscale but unpretentious neighborhood lunch spot that offers "creative" sandwiches, salads, and pizza. On the evening I was there, the restaurant was full of what appeared to be Medical Center professionals and their perky, attractive spouses and offspring, which made for a surprisingly raucous crowd. The chef-owners were busy in the back of the house but also made appearances in the dining room; they were friendly to everyone, including several regulars in the crowd. The servers were young and well-meaning.
I agree with wendileigh that salads seem to be the restaurant's strong suit. I didn’t try the Thai beef or the Asian chicken, but they did a fine job with the pear and gorgonzola: good greens, ripe pear slices, a nice gorgonzola—with a sharp balsamic vinaigrette on the side. The spinach-and-strawberry salad sounded great but was way too sweet for me. In addition to sweetened strawberry slices such as they use in their strawberry lemonade, this salad contained practically a whole small can of Mandarin orange sections. Combined with an orange-honey-mustard dressing, this salad was just too much like dessert to enjoy as a first or main course. I’ll share a tip: This option is even worse if you've also ordered the strawberry lemonade.
Like wendileigh, I really enjoyed the warm bread that begins the meal. The flavor of rosemary and olive oil is pronounced. Although their bread physically resembles wedges of pita bread, it seems to be based on pizza dough, which would make it a kind of thin, chewy focaccia. This bread and the salads that started the meal were the best courses of the evening, excluding dessert.
Dinner specialties from the grill (grilled lamb kebabs; shrimp kebabs with pesto fettuccine) were okay, but not delicious. The large chunks of lamb were somewhat seasoned and grilled medium-rare, but there is better lamb to be found elsewhere. The grilled baby zucchini halves that came with this dish were the best part of the course, in my opinion, although the grilled sweet peppers were also decent. The very large twice-baked potato was better than average, if only because Pam’s uses better cheese than do most restaurants that feature this rather retro side-dish. The pesto shrimp entree was keenly disappointing. The eight shrimp were on the small side and tasted like they had been dunked in Italian dressing and then grilled for too long. The pesto fettuccine that came with the shrimp suffered from the boring nature of the pesto and the severe overcooking of the pasta. For some reason—probably for visual effect—the pasta was ringed with at least a cup or two of cold, uncooked, not-very-ripe tomato chunks that had been tossed with some olive oil and maybe oregano. The pesto fettuccine gained nothing from close contact with cold tomatoes. This experience suggested to me that the Italian and “Eastern Mediterranean” offerings on the menu are best avoided.
I appreciated the suggestion to try the cake at Pam’s Cafe. All they had left on this particular night was Italian cream cake. Usually, Italian cream cake has about as good a chance of being delicious as tiramisu does (which is to say, almost none). I actually liked their version. It was rich and made with fresh ingredients, with a thin, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth frosting that contained pecan pieces. Their frosting was neither as thick nor as sweet as most cream-cheese-based frostings for this dessert, which I appreciated. The cake itself had good body without being extremely dense. After all, Italian cream cake isn’t banana bread. Overall, the ICC at Pam’s was a delightful made-from-scratch piece of cake, which is harder to find in a restaurant than it should be. Based on this slice, I imagine their German chocolate cake will be enjoyable, too. On the other hand, I thought their key lime pie was underwhelming. The filling was creamy but its tartness was off-putting. I love tart desserts, but this one was almost bitter, as though they’d had pith problems when zesting the limes. The crust was thick, hard, and tough. It had to be chipped at with the fork, in an ice-pick-like motion, to even get a taste of it.
When I glanced at the lunch menu, I initially thought the sandwiches on focaccia sounded appealing, but almost all of them contain cream cheese. In the future, I’ll stick to the bread, non-strawberry salads, and the cakes, with limitless refills of their strawberry lemonade. Many thanks to both Sam Spade and wendileigh for this recommendation.
I'd suggest India Palace on the SE corner of Fred and Wurzbach. Cramped tables piled on one another if you don't get a booth, a la Manhattan. Lunch buffet is six and change. The fragrant basmati rice is always good, if not a bit too dry, but served with Saag Paneer and Chicken Tikka Masala , you'd never know. It's all you want to eat, but I usually get one plate with the above mentioned items, and I'm happy. The buffet always has a very good selection of veg and veg-meat offerings, including tandoori chicken. If you like Indian-style food, give it a spin. Ask them for 'papadam'...it's not on the menu (and I've never been charged...yet). But, I liken it to homemade chips at a taqueria. Grab a small cup of the spicey mint chutney on the salad side of the buffet, and generously spoon on pieces of the papadam...cool heaven.
YGBSM: Thanks for the tip. The chow at India Palace sounds like a great place for a quick, tasty lunch. I'll check it out when I'm back in the area this week. I'll also be sure to hit Pam's Cafe while I'm in town. Thanks for the menu suggestions, wendileigh.
And revets2, Fredericksburg & Callaghan refers to an intersection in the Medical Center area of San Antonio.
To answer one of my own questions: No, Paul's Pizza Kitchen is not good. The pizza dough is dry, thick, bready, and flavorless, and their standard toppings can’t compensate for it. Thus, their pizzas and calzones are mediocre at best. The dolmas were slimy, oddly lemony, and extremely soft. The filling itself was so bland as to seem like just rice. Their spaghetti was mushy; the tomato sauce that topped it was too sweet; the two meatballs were blah; and the buttered, toasted Italian bread that comes with the pasta tasted like part of a Stouffer's frozen dinner. By that I mean, if you did a blind taste-test, you would never guess that this substance was bread. The “homemade” brownie tasted like it was made from a mix.
The only remotely palatable items were a tossed salad, which consisted of mostly white lettuce and a cherry tomato or two, along with a sweet honey-mustard dressing; the garlic knots, which had enough olive oil and Parmesan cheese on their surface to slightly mitigate the blandness of the pizza dough; and the baklava, which didn’t contain enough pistachios or other nuts, seemed to be made with a cloying sugar-syrup instead of honey, and featured moderately-flaky though sticky layers of phyllo dough, but still faintly approximated a good version of this dessert.
I’m sorry to say that unless their "world famous" sirloin burgers are actually amazing, as the menu suggests, Paul’s Pizza Kitchen is not worth a visit.