The Salt Lick Sues The Salt Lick

Dispatch from the BBQ Wars:

Salt Lick BBQ is picking a legal fight with a Georgia company it claims is infringing on its name and reputation.

In a lawsuit filed in Texas’ Western District U.S. Court, the Driftwood restaurant chain claims that the Salt Lick Sausage Co. of Cordele, Georgia, is violating the Central Texas company’s trademark by offering barbecue products for sale via its website www.saltlicksausage.com, which is similar in nature to www.saltlickbbq.com.

Salt Lick claims the Georgia company is using marks and iconography that are similar to its own, and that Salt Lick Sausage stands to benefit from the international reputation and publicity enjoyed by Salt Lick.

The ironic thing, of course, is that the sausage is far and away the least impressive of the Driftwood Salt Lick’s signature meats.

But here’s a revealing tidbit:

“The Austin-area company generated more than $25 million in revenue and served more than 650,000 customers at its main restaurant in Driftwood.”

Having been there fairly recently, I can believe it…

(Cross-posted from Futuramen.)

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July 25, 2015: Hill’s Cafe

Hill’s Cafe
700 S Congress Ave (Austin, 78745)
(512) 851-9300

Restroom Rating: 1.5 (Guys, when one soap dispenser is broken, and the other is off the wall and lying on the sinktop, your men’s room needs attention….)

Lawrence’s Comments

Hill’s is one of those “Austin institutions” that has been around forever. We’ve eaten there before, and always thought they had good hamburgers and chicken fried steak.

Since Armadillocon was over in the Omni Southpark this year, and since Hill’s Cafe is evidently under new management, we decided to give them a revisit. This time around we had…hamburgers and chicken-fried steak. And I thought my chicken-fried steak was very tasty indeed, probably top 5 in Austin tasty, and I heard no complaints from the hamburger contingent. I also thought the onion rings were pretty good. (You’ll have to check with Dwight on the BBQ.)

They were out of banana pudding, and offered us some complimentary banana bread pudding instead. While I appreciate the gesture, the bread pudding just wasn’t very good, so you should probably avoid that.

Our waiter was reasonably attentive, and pretty much kept up with our refills and other requests.

Overall the meal was more than satisfactory, offering up well-executed renditions of classic hearty Texas fare in filing portions at a fair price. Which makes me wonder why the place was half-deserted when we ate there.

Hill’s is never going to be a favorite with the “3 small pieces of seared fish artfully arranged with sculpted garnishes on a drizzle-glazed plate for $30” crowd. But if you’re looking for good down home Texas food, Hill’s Cafe amply fits the bill.

(Cross-posted from Futuramen.)

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Our Short Regional Nightmare May Be Approaching An End

Blue Bell ice cream to begin test production this week.

Hip hip, hooray! If all goes well, they expect to have product back on store shelves by Labor Day. Also, billionaire Sid Bass has made a “significant investment” in Blue Bell, which should help them survive until production is up and running again.

(Cross-posted from Futuramen.)

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Don’t Order the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe

For twenty years worth of the Saturday Dining Conspiracy, I’ve had good dishes and bad, but never before until this past Saturday had I just sent a dish back as completely inedible.

The Chong Chin Chicken was described as seasoned with lots of hot peppers and peppercorns. I didn’t really see the peppercorns, but I definitely saw the hot peppers; it looked like they dumped a giant fistful into the dish. Though a chilehead, I’ve never had that many dry hot peppers in any dish before.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

The first few bites of the dish seemed incredibly dry to me, and it tasted like they hadn’t used any sauce whatsoever, which was an odd choice.

That’s not why I sent the dish back.

After a few bites, my tongue’s taste receptors just seemed to shut off, ruining the taste of the dumplings Dwight and Andrew had ordered. Shortly thereafter I realized what the big problem was: it was the most salty dish I’d ever tasted in my life.


An image of the chef preparing the dish.

Normally my tolerance for salt in my meal is higher than most, but this was beyond the pale. I had my co-conspirators try it, and they all agreed it was inedible salty, even Andrew, who loves salt more than I do.

A dish too salty for Andrew and too hot for me; it was like some sort of anti-miracle.

So I sent it back and got some orange peel chicken instead, which was far more edible.

I wouldn’t discourage you from going to Asia Cafe, but unless you look like this:


The only diner who might enjoy the Chong Chin Chicken at Asia Cafe.

I would strongly urge you not to order the Chong Chin Chicken…

(Cross posted to Futuramen.)

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Blue Bell Recalls ALL Products

“Brenham-based Blue Bell Creameries is pulling all of its products from the shelves after more ice cream samples tested positive for a life-threatening bacterial infection.”

The voluntary decision, announced Monday, is the latest and most sweeping development to plague the Texas business icon since a recall last month, the first in the company’s 108-year history.

It came after an “enhanced sampling program” that found half-gallon containers of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream produced on March 17 and March 27 contained the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, company officials said.

Plus this:

“The latest tests mean the company had several positive tests for Listeria in different plants.”

Pretty hard to fathom a wide-spread outbreak in multiple plants. The only explanations I can think of:

  • A hardy new strain of Listeria is running wild in Texas cow herds

  • A mutant Listeria has evolved to survive pasteurization (a pretty scary thought)
  • There’s a problem somewhere in their additive supply chain
  • Sabotage/Eco-terrorism (PETA hates dairies).

Anyway, if you have any Blue Bell in your freezer, it’s probably safest to throw it out…

(Copied from Futuramen.)

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Austin Quiznos Closings

Between Delaware Subs, Schlotzsky’s and Firehouse, I haven’t eaten at a Quiznos in quite a while. So it was a surprise for me to find that almost 3,000 Quiznos stores have closed and the company filed for bankruptcy protection last year. Austin closings include one at Lake Creek at 183 that I never ate it, and one at 1931 E. Ben White that I must have grabbed a few sandwiches from when I worked in the area in 2002.

The only Austin locations still open are evidently in the UT student center, at 922 North Congress, at 3637C Far West, at 8201 Cross Park Dr., and at 11301 Lakeline Blvd.

Personally I blame their decline on the atonal singing vermin:

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A double handful of food related randomness.

During one of my dinner conversations over the weekend, the subject of “Family Affair” came up for reasons I have forgotten. (I don’t think the initial discussion started out with Anissa Jones, but Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what a sad death.)

In the course of the conversation, I stumbled across this: The Family Affair Cookbook. I’m sure Ms. Garver is a very nice person, but when I think “Family Affair”, I don’t really think “food”. Then again, the show did go off the air when I was six…

Something else that came out of another dinner conversation: does anyone remember The Magic Pan? Yes, it was a chain (owned by Quaker Oats?!) and I don’t believe there was ever one in Austin. There was one in the Galleria in Houston; I ate there a couple of times, and have fond memories of it.

Googling to see if there were any Magic Pans left (spoiler: no) turned up a few links I want to immortalize for reference purposes:

Magic Pan recipes from Uncle Phaedrus. Actually, the whole Uncle Phaedrus website is probably bookmark worthy; if you’re anything like me, you have to kind of like a guy who combines food and Sherlock Holmes.

By way of Uncle Phaedrus, here’s a file that contains some of the Magic Pan master recipes. Just in case you have a steam kettle and want to make 17 pounds of Beef Bourguignon.

The Crepe Cookbook by Paulette Fono and Maria Stacho on Amazon. (Paulette Fono and her husband Lazlo opened the first Magic Pan in Ghirardelli Square.) I kind of want this (even if it doesn’t have any Magic Pan recipes after 1971) but I don’t want it $43.61 worth. Also, I am still prohibited from purchasing cookbooks.

Crepe Cookery by Mable Hoffman, which is at least more reasonably priced.

The Magic Pan Project appears to be offline.

This guy likes the VillaWare V5225 Crepe Maker. If you want to buy one, more power to you. But there’s no way I’m going to cook $90 worth of crepes. And I’m also a subscriber to Alton Brown’s theory of avoiding single-purpose kitchen gadgets.

Damn. Now I’m hungry, and there’s no way for me to get crepes. I think Crepes Mille may still be on South Congress, but there’s no way for me to get there on my dinner break. Flip Happy Crepes is closed (I really do hope they get the brick and mortar thing figured out.) The Original Pancake House has some crepes, but not a whole lot, and they close at 2.

Anybody got any other crepe sources in Austin? (I am aware of that company that sells pre-made crepes at HEB, though I’m blanking on the name right now.)

(Crossposted to WCD, because that’s just the kind of hairball I am.)

Posted in Books, Closed, Television, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

September 20, 2014: Pour House Pints and Pies

Pour House Pints And Pies
11835 Jollyville Rd (Austin, 78759)
(512) 270-4740

Lawrence’s Comments

This is essentially a sports bar that serves pizza. The pizza was pretty good (but could have used more cheese to hold our “four meats plus onions” toppings in place), but the fried mozzarella was undersized for the price, and the service was indifferent at best.

Unless you want to watch sports, there’s no reason to go here instead of Reale’s just up 183.

(Cross-posted to my blog.)

Dwight’s Comments

I can see this being a nice place to sit on the porch and have a couple of beers (they have a good beer selection), or sit inside and have a couple of beers and watch the game.

But I didn’t find the pizza to be that good; the cheese seemed skimpy,the toppings kept falling off, and I felt it was undersized for the money.

If drinking is your primary concern, this might be an okay choice.

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Dojo NoGo.

Two closings discovered by way of Austin Eater, and noted because we’ve had SDCs at both:

  • The Dojo. We went there because I had one of those Restaurant.com coupons. Perhaps I didn’t understand the concept, but I thought it was…okay. Nothing really to write home about, and the ramen was in third place on my list (behind Tatsu-Ya and Michi). The other dishes we had were not compelling enough to make me want to go back. Plus, they were located in the Crossroads center at Burnet and Anderson, which is a nightmare for parking.
  • The Kim Phung location near Lakeline has also closed. We also had an SDC there, and I remember thinking it was pretty swell; as a matter of fact, I even remember thinking I liked it better than the Kim Phung on North Lamar. And you know something? Until I read the closure announcement, I’d completely forgotten it was there. What a drag it is getting old.
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Artz Rib House Founder Art Blondin Dies

Longtime Austin restaurateur and champion of live music Art Blondin has died. An employee discovered Blondin upon arriving for work at Blondin’s Art’s Ribs & BBQ in Florence, Texas, on Saturday morning. An autopsy Monday will determine the cause of Blondin’s death, and police say they do not expect foul play.

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