Spitzit’s House

Where serious topics come to relax

Restaurant Review – Catfish Plantation, Waxahachie, TX

catfish-plantationYou know…I have lived in the DFW area most of my life and spent much of my youth growing up in De Soto, just a few miles north of Waxahachie. I have heard of the the Catfish Plantation while growing up in the area and many of the ghost stories that have contributed to its fame. But in all of those years I had never made my way to actually dining there until just recently…and I am so glad I did.

I have dined in many restaurants from the deepest darkest hidden “hole in the wall” dives to some of the most formidable fancy dining our great city has to offer, and everything in between, and I have to say that there is nothing on God’s green Earth that my taste buds love more than good old fashioned down-home Southern cooking. That is what Catfish Plantation is…the kind of restaurant that that soothes the beast in you that craves your grandma’s southern cooking.

Located on Water street in Waxahachie, TX, Catfish Plantation became famous around the DFW area for the paranormal experiences of many of its patrons over the years. Said to be haunted by about three different ghosts that were once residents of the former house, the restaurant has been investigated by a few different paranormal investigators and has a whole slew of fun ghost stories to add to its appeal. I was excited about our visit, but unfortunately do not have any ghost experiences to tell, other than an inordinate amount of food disappearing from my plate in record time.

So here are the menu items I greedily consumed for the evening…First the appetizers, which we did the sampler of course, and for a measly $7.75 they brought out a massive pile of the 3 appetizers of our choosing, which were fried pickles, hush puppies, and sweet potato fries. We also added onion rings for a well rounded mountain of fried goodness. The Sweet Potato Fries were hands down the best I have ever had. These fries are thick cut and batter fried for a wonderful soft and tasty variety of sweet potato fries that I had never had before, and because the conventional thin cut sweet potato fries just don’t carry enough carbs for a health nut like me. The hush puppies were moist and chock full of spices and whole kernels of corn, and the fried dill pickles were…well, they need no description because they are always good. The onion rings were these gigantic thick cut rings that looked and tasted like deep fried golden halos sent straight from heaven. for the money, it was in my honest opinion the best heart-stopping appetizer sampler I have had in recent memory.

For my main entree I had what else but fried CATFISH! I love the stuff and consider myself somewhat of an amateur connoisseur in the southern delicacy of catfish. This was not the best I have ever had…that dubious honor is still held, for almost 15 years now, by a little hole in the wall at the corner of Kiest and Hampton in deep South Dallas known as Catfish Connection (carryout only). Catfish Plantation did have some damn fine catfish though, and I got a mixture of the regular and cajun fried, which were both quite tasty. The sides of cole slaw, fried okra, and french fries were all excellent and I was quite content to stuff myself with catfish all night, but I did need to leave a little room for the dessert.

We ordered up the rest of the bread pudding they had in the kitchen which came out nice warm and drizzled in a white chocolate and cream. Oh My God, it was the best bread pudding ever. For any murderous maniac sitting on death row…when your time comes, I don’t care what else you order for your last meal, but I highly recommend this bread pudding as your last dessert, so you can at least get one last little taste of what heaven might have been like for you.

The service here was just absolutely over the top friendly. One thing I will never understand is how the fancy restaurants I have been to never seem to even come close in service to the old fashion family restaurants where it just comes so naturally and genuine. I guess it is just a cultural difference of city and country living. I don’t know.

The one problem with Catfish Plantation is that it is a little bit of a drive to the very far far south side of the Dallas area heading toward Waco. It was worth the drive, but not one I would make on even a monthly basis from where I am. If you get a chance, I highly recommend the place…and if your lucky maybe a ghost will thump you on the head.

That’s my tasteful opinion and I am sticking to it…until the ghosts decide to move into my house.

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review – Cru Wine Bar – Plano

dsc03798Cru Wine Bar actually has three locations in the Dallas area that include the West Village on McKinney Ave., On Legacy in Plano, and on Market Street in Allen.

My first experience was at the West Village location in Dallas with a group of friends which we really enjoyed, and therefore I was looking forward to visiting the Legacy location in Plano with the same group. I had been planning on writing a review and the recent visit on Friday November 7th was just the reminder I needed. Brace yourself, because this will be a very mixed review ranging from one extreme to the other.

So what do you want first…the good news or the bad news?

Bad news it is…picture-020

I will be perfectly blunt…this recent experience was hands down, the very worst service I have ever had in any restaurant, bar, or hotel I have ever been in. To be clear, bad service can come in a few different categories of bad ranging from an absentee or slow server, to screwed up orders, etc. But this one was the worst kind…RUDE. The service we received on this evening was apalling, pretentious, and just plain disgusting. Every visit she made to our table left the whole table discussing her attitude for the next several minutes.

At the end of our evening, she refused to break the bill up citing some lame excuse, and left 9 peoplcru-14-fondue_1752e puttering over a receipt to only find out later that the receipt was wrong because an errant flight of wine had been added to our tab that no one ordered. The order did get removed, but not before stating that this was her only table and somehow implying that the mistake must be ours, like we would be trying to steal a $15 flight of wine on a $350 tab. Then there was the case of her inserting herself into the middle of a private conversation that two of the ladies from our party were having with two gentlemen of interest at the bar. In guy-speak we call this “…blocking”. In the middle of these specific situations was just the consistently overwhelming attitude of inconvenience and condescension that she shared very generously with our group.

To be fair, our party thoroughly enjoyed all of the cheese flights, several of the wine flights, and my wife and I had the Kobe steak which was OK but not great. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the wine selection and cheese flights are well above average, but can be slightly pricey which is not a problem at all…if your are receiving the service that is commensurate. cru-18-kobebeef_1751

We really consider Cru to be one of our favorite places to meet with friends. However, the service in general at the West Village is not what I would categorize as spectacular. It is average at best…which is fine. However, our first visit to the Legacy location proved to be a memorable one and one for the record books.

If you have a taste for good wine and good cheese with friends and you enjoy it all being served to you by a world-class pretentious bitch who does everything but outright tell you she would rather be doing anything but being your server, then the Cru Wine Bar at Legacy in Plano may be the place for you. Hopefully, our experience was an isolated one.

That is my sober opinion…and all the wine and cheese in Cru couldn’t change it.

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tour of Fried Foods at the 2008 State Fair of Texas

So…now that the Texas State Fair is officially over for the year, I thought now would be a good time to write my opinions on this year’s menu of fried food offerings. My logic being that I have in essence graciously thrown myself on the “fried food grenade”. Therefore, you can simply read about the experience without having to succumb to the misery, the calories, and the general health issues associated with taking in about 97,000 calories, 37,000 fat grams, and a whole other medley of heart stopping dietary statistics.

The date of the “Fried Food Tour of Death” (FFTD) began Saturday morning, October 18, 2008. These are the items I consumed, what I thought of each of them, and whether they got a thumbs up or I flipped them the bad finger. So here we go…

Chicken Fried Bacon – This was the first one I ate within 10 minutes of being at the fair, which was fitting since it was still breakfast time…and I love bacon. Really, though, bacon is good any time of day. My wife’s first comment was “whats the big deal about fried bacon? All bacon is fried, right?” To which I replied “actually, we microwave our bacon, and… this here is not just any fried bacon, it is chicken fried bacon!” This stuff was better than good…it was fantastic! It was early, I was hungry, and here was this heavenly little pile of deep fried bacon nestled in my little paper carton just waiting to be lathered up in ranch dressing and shoved hungrily into my big salivating pie hole. Definitely a double thumbs up. It rocked!

Fried Truffle – I learned an important lesson with this one. Just because I love chocolate truffles, does not mean that passion translates to it being fried. By far the messiest of the foods I sampled, this innocent looking little fried ball was actually more like a little chocolate meteor just waiting to be cracked open so it could spew its scalding chocolate lava all over my hand. Rich molten chocolate and hot frying grease just didn’t go well here. I shot this one the bird with one red and burned middle finger.

Fried Latte – This one was good…yet disappointing at the same time. You ask yourself like you do so many of the items ‘how do they fry a latte’?  Half of the experience is eating the food, but a big part of it is marveling at how they figure out ways to fry stuff that was never meant to be fried.  The answer in this case is that the latte is not really fried. As you can see, you have some “fried” little pieces of “dough stuff” on the bottom which is topped with a scoop of coffee flavored ice cream and then some whipped cream, and voila…”fried Latte”…NOT! It tasted great, but I still felt gypped. Reluctantly, I ate every bit of it…then I flipped it the bird.

Fried S’mores – I love me some s’mores, but one was actually enough this time. I was expecting this to be kind of gross, but was pleasantly surprised. The chocolate and marshmallow were blended nicely in a smooth creamy texture with a full rich flavor and just a hint of day old grease. I was only slightly miffed by the fact that there was no graham cracker present in this dish, so by definition it was not a true s’more. It would have been even better with the graham cracker, but was still delicious. I recommend a dry chardonnay with this one and give it a thumbs up and half of a high-five.

Fried Apple Pie – I was really psyched for this, and could not wait to see how they fried a slice of apple pie. I mean it is America’s favorite dessert, and now I was going to eat it fried…YAY! Wow, am I ever an idiot…I mean how many times in my life have I heard someone ask me through a drive-thru speaker “would you like fries or an apple pie with that?” That is exactly what this was…a McDonalds looking fried pie covered in whipped cream…and I paid the equivalent of $5 in coupons for it…D’OH!! This one got the double-bird…one for the pie and one for myslef.

Fried Chocolate Covered Strawberries – See the trend starting here? The fried stuff is mostly desserts, and so far they aren’t batting too well, so I was skeptical at this point. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of the better items of the day. Two chocolate dipped strawberries deep fried and skewered, and actually quite mouth-watering. I could have eaten more of these, but I really needed to leave room for lunch. These got a definite thumbs up!

Fried Grilled Cheese – The sad fact is that this one could be really good if done right…but in this case it was really bland and tasteless. I waited in too long of a line with great expectations for what turned out to be the biggest let down of the day. The sandwiches were batter-fried in what appeared to be panko bread crumbs to make them crispy, and were served with chips, a pickle, and a little cup of what I believe was tomato soup. I doused the sandwiches in salt and pepper and dipped it in the soup to give it some kind of flavor, but outside of that it was the most flavorless cheese and bread I have ever had. The chips and pickle were good though…but not good enough to keep me from flipping it the bad finger!

Fried Moon Pie – While I was waiting in line for the Fried Grill Cheese, my wife brought me the moon pie, which was a nice surprise considering that it was not on my original scheduled tour of foods. This actually was not as bad as it sounds. My only problem was that it was a banana moon pie, which I was never a fan of in the first place. I would have preferred chocolate, but evidently you were not given a choice. I thought it was OK, but my wife really liked it, so…thumbs up for the fried banana moon pie.

Fried Pineapple and Strawberries – I believe the official name of this item was “Fire and Ice”. I don’t know why it got that name other than the fact that it was evidently deep fried pineapple chunks, with drizzled frozen strawberry goo on top. It wasn’t great, but not terrible either. I ate it as a dessert to wash the dusty flavor of the grilled cheese out of my mouth, and it succeeded. It is important to note though, that while many things were not meant to be fried…pineapples rank toward the top of that list in my opinion. I would normally flip this one the bird, but it saved my taste buds from the lunch so it is a wash.

Fried Snickers – It is late in the day at this point, and just when I think I can’t eat another fried food for the rest of the year, I find a second wind and the will power to keep plugging along. I really thought the Snicker bar would do me in for good. Nothing sounded good at this point and my eyes were crossing and stomach churning, but I managed to eat it all for the sake of getting some good writing material. Like all Snicker bars this one resembled a fried turd that made my stomach lurch at first, but it was good if I remember correctly. I gave it a thumbs up and I promised myself no more…

Fried Oreos – And I broke that promise less than five minutes later. Man, were these things great and one of the highlights of the day. I never thought I could eat an Oreo without a glass of milk, but there is a first time for everything. Who knew that Oreos all warm and soft from soaking with greasy batter could be so good. Fortunately, my system needed just this fix of sugar and hot vegetable oil to keep me going for the home stretch. These definitely got a double thumbs up!

Fried BBQ – It is very late in the day now and I am just trying to unload a pocket full of coupons while I stagger my way for the exit. I am seriously close to over-dosing and convinced that some fried protein would be good for me. The fried BBQ is actually some pretty decent brisket rolled in an eggroll and deep fried…imagine that. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well and my eyes were no longer able to focus which is why the remaining pictures suck. I did like the BBQ and gave it a thumbs up…but I could be wrong since all of my senses were kind of dull and discombobulated at this point.

Fried Green Tomatoes – A Southern staple and favorite, my wife insisted on getting these. Nothing in the world sounded good to me except a bucket of Tums and a bed. I did eat one of them, but my taste buds had checked out for the evening. What remained was a blurry vision of what strongly resembled fried grasshopper guts, and I resisted a very strong urge to hurl right there on the steps of the Pavilion. I closed my eyes and courageously choked it down like a Fear Factor champion and slowly raise my middle finger in victory…Must go home.

This was it, except for the giant smoked turkey leg my wife got with the remaining coupons on the way out of the door. So the 10 mile walk to the car was a torturous march of watching my wife and kids slowly gnaw the meat off a giant leg bone. UGH!

Also, I actually skipped the Fletcher’s Corn Dog and never got to the fried banana split, jelly beans, and a plethora of other fried foods that are available. I love the corn dogs, but they just take me out of the game so quick that I had to make the sacrifice this year for the sake of trying some other stuff. I just don’t think it is humanly possible to eat all the fried offerings in a single day unless you just have the stomachs and constitution of a cow. I guess I am just an amateur, but I did succeed in my tour and am glad I did it, but I do not recommend it for everyone. A food tour of this magnitude will result in a Texas size trip to the bathroom. You may need to take a couple of magazines and a crossword puzzle.

I do recommend putting some of these items on your list to try next year and I hope I saved you the time and money of trying some others. We will be having Chicken Fried Bacon for Thanksgiving this year and thanking God for blessing us with such a great fried food.

October 21, 2008 Posted by | Everything Else, Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Islamorada Fish Company

Dined at the Islamorada Fish Company located in the Bass Pro Shop off I-30 in Garland Texas on Friday.  It was a birthday dinner for my father in-law so we wanted to try something new and nice.   I know, I know, Bass Pro Shop isn’t what the sophisticated “foodie” would consider a place for a nice dining experience.   However, this is Garland, TX and folks around here think Red Lobster is a “high falootin fancy” restaurant for rich folks.   For Garland, Islamorada Fish Company is the Ritz.

The experience overall was mediocre at best.  Atmosphere was decent.  The massive salt water fish tank behind the bar is very cool and the tons of saltwater species mounted on the walls and ceiling throughout the restaurant are also very cool.  The food is another story.  Its not bad, but its not great.

Appetizers:  The fried alligator was overcooked and not as tender as it should have been.  The venison stuffed mushrooms were small and you simply could not taste the venison over the mushroom, which was really disappointing because I was really looking forward to these. The Wahoo dip was so creamed up with mayo or whatever it was, you could not taste the fish.  It could have been tuna out of a can and I would never have known.  The calamari was pretty decent, and the coconut fried shrimp was the typical frozen stuff that I buy myself at Sam’s Club.  The best thing about the appetizers was the sauce from the stuffed mushroom that we all ended up dipping our bread into and trying to sop up every last drop of it like a bunch os starved wolves.

Oh, did I mention we found a hair baked into the top of one of the homemade loaves of bread?  Not just any hair…this was one hell of a long black nasty hair.  Our waiter apologized and tried to explain no one in the kitchen had long hair and it must have come off of one of the brushes they use to brush butter on the loaves.  Whatever, dude!  I suggest then you stop using your girlfriends hair brush to put butter on the bread loaves.  

For an entree I had a dish called the Fisherman, which included a filet of catfish, some Whitefish, and some other kind of fish I can’t remember laid out on a bed of regular french fries.  It wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t great.  Sorry, I didn’t try the desserts this time around.  I wasn’t in the mood to blow anymore cash on the over priced and over rated food at this place.  

Our waiter was average, but I would expect the service to be a bit more sophisticated for this place.

I have had much worse, and the Fish Company wasn’t terrible, but I guess I expected more from this place that has a pretty significant history dating back to the 40’s in Key West.   As a comparison, I would say that the menu at Pappadeaux is very similar to the Fish Company.  The big distinction between the restaurants is that Pappadeaux’s menu is more extensive, their food is way better in every way, they have fantastic service, a great atmosphere, larger food portions, and the prices are only slightly higher.

I give the Fish Company a 2.5 out of 5 stars. Very forgettable.  In fact, they can forget about me coming back, because I will be going to Pappadeaux the next time I want this kind of food.

September 6, 2008 Posted by | Restaurants & Dining | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment