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52 Tables

Mom, Dad and Donna. 1 year. 52 tables. The journey begins January 2010.

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Sep '10

Table 34: Del Norte Tacos

The Road Trip

When we started this project of eating at 52 tables in 52 weeks, we wanted to share our ‘eating out together’ experience rather than critique the tables in which we ate. It seems as though everyone wants to be a food critic. Not so for gastronomes Mom, Dad and me (Donna). It truly is all about the experience, even though sometimes we also want to share our thoughts about what we ate. Today’s table is one of those tables; one where we have to brag about the food. Continue reading "Table 34: Del Norte Tacos" »

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Jul '10

52 Tables Update

52 Tables returns to the blogging scene this week with a trip to The Classic Cafe in Roanoke, Texas. However, this post is not about that table. This post is to let everyone know we’re back to blogging and will be working backward and forward to get you all up-to-date on all our tables. We have a book full of notes just waiting to be decyphered and posted. We’ve taken tons of pictures, too.

Here’s to our next 22 tables!

Bon Appetite!

Donna, Jo and Don

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Mar '10

Table 12: P.F. Chang’s

Jo, Don and Donna in front of P.F. Chang's - Grapevine

Jo, Don and Donna

The Sharing Table

I am calling this post the sharing table because for some particular reason we shared everything today! From food to conversation, we shared it all.

We’re an easy going lot and when our plans to eat across the street at Outback Steakhouse fell through, it wasn’t hard to choose eating at P.F. Chang’s instead. We love eating dishes with an Asian influence. When I was much younger…much, much younger, Mom and Dad frequented a local Chinese food restaurant. When you’re four, five years old, it all looks like regurgitated food. The only thing I would eat were the fried wontons. Well, low and behold, what did I spy on the menu? Fried pork wontons! Had to have ’em. Oh… the memories of early childhood! And, of course, we shared them. We also order the chicken eggrolls. And, of course, we shared them. I should have known this was an indication of the way the rest of this week’s table was going to go. Continue reading "Table 12: P.F. Chang’s" »

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Mar '10

Table 9: Hedary’s Mediterranean Restaurant

A Treat for the Senses

Walking into Hedary’s you are immediately transported across the oceans to another land. Mom and Dad discovered this Fort Worth landmark years ago (I’m thinking 1970s) when introduced by their friends, Ned and Dolores Groeschel. As she was being seated, Mom recalled Ned taking off to talk to the owner who sat at the back of the restaurant peeling garlic. The owner explained that the best way to eat here, was by using the freshly-made hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread. We all felt obliged to let Josh, our waiter extraordinaire,  know this when he delivered our fifth basket of hot pitas.

The food was even better than I remembered. Maybe my adult tastebuds are just more in tune now. On my drive into town today, I had already made up my mind that I wanted the Maza platter – a sampler of sorts (mini dishes) of the different fare offered at Hedary’s. Like everything else, we noted how much the prices had increased (still well worth the $25 in my book). However, what we didn’t know, is now Hedary’s offers a wonderful, all-you-can eat lunch buffet. Not only did I get my Maza platter, but I got to taste everything else, too. Even though I am still pigged beyond believe as I write this post, I am also still savoring every delectable bite. I think the roasted cauliflower and eggplant hummus have got to be at the top of my list of favorites here.

Under the clear plastic table cloths, lies a map of the Middle East. Dad shared how ‘they’ had to fly around Syria to get from one base to another (envision drawing a near complete circle around the country), avoiding Syria’s air space. What I remember from Dad’s trips to the Middle East, was the Turkish pistacio nuts he would bring home in these huge five-pound bags. Maybe they were in smaller bags, but as a kid they looked like five-pound bags to me.

This table is clearly one of our favorites. We just might have to return again, very soon.

Feb '10

Table 8: Swiss Pastry Shop

Let’s Eat!

What can I say? When this bunch is hungry, there’s little talking going on.

I bet it’s been at least a year since we visited the Swiss Pastry Shop in Fort Worth. Not that I would know the difference between German and Swiss food, but I find it weird that it is the Swiss Pastry Shop and they serve German food. Of course, maybe there is no difference between the two cuisines.

You have to be quick around this group, if you want to get anything done when it comes to eating. Today was one such day. We sat down, we ordered, we started eating. Oh! Quick! Take a pic before the food is all gone. Ha! Like that was gonna happen. As you can see, the food disappeared pretty much before the first snap of the camera.

This gem of a table is hidden in one of the working districts of Fort Worth. My good friends Pete and Lisa introduced me many years ago. I, in turn, introduced my parents. I have yet to find a better place for getting juicy bratwurst with grilled onions and savory saurkraut. Dad is a died-in-the-wool pastrami sandwich guy, while Mom couldn’t resist the Reuben sandwich.

Today the news was all about Hampton Beach, N.H., a resort town we used to frequent while Dad was stationed at Pease Air Force Base. Overnight a terrible fire engulfed a full city block of the tourist town, demolishing a number of tourist-driven businesses. The blessing being it is not tourist season. Mom recalled going and seeing Peter, Paul and Mary in concert there, back in the day. When Dad was off on TDY, I got pawned off on the babysitter, and Mom and her friends would go over to Hampton Beach to watch the waves. Part of the boardwalk was positioned in such a manner that when the waves were really roaring, you could see the fish swimming in the wall of water as it passed by. Wish I had seen that! (Not that I would remember seeing it.)

What I remember about Hampton Beach, was the rides at the amusement park. I think that’s where I first fell in love with riding roller coasters. I also remember the fun house they had, but not much else. Vividly I do recall the fun spent with Dad there. That feeling of just getting to hang out with your Dad. What a great memory.

While we were eating lunch and sharing our different recollections of that popular New England tourist spot, it was clear this was another memory in the making. In retrospect, I can see how Swiss Pastry Shop really was the right choice for the day with its boardwalk-type German fare.

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Feb '10

Table 7: Empty Bowls

52 Tables in One Day

After a very hurried morning, I found myself rushing out the door to meet up with my two fellow gastronomes, aka Mom and Dad aka Jo and Don.

It would be easy to entitle today’s table as “An Exercise in Controlled Chaos.” But I digress and won’t. Technically, there really was 52 Tables, just not all of them being tables at which to eat. 30 local restaurants participated in this year’s Empty Bowls event.

We have been planning this table for several weeks, as reservations are prerequisite in attending. This table was sold out by February 12. Not only was this event sold out, it set a new attendance record, of over 1500 tickets sold. Obviously this annual event is well attended, sells out quickly, and is supported magnanimously by its community. Empty Bowls was conceived years ago as a way to support the Tarrant Area Food Bank. When you attend this event, you are treated to a sampling of dishes from local area restaurants and you get to walk away with a special bowl donated to the event by local artisans. The overwhelming support of this community is evidenced when attending this annual event.

Arriving at this table, we were greeted by a warm, smiling face who was handing out green, re-usable grocery bags donated by Safeway. Inside we found the ‘menu’ of participating restaurants and a long list of lovingly donated bowls. Approaching the tables full of colorful, hand-crafted bowls, Jo immediately noticed bowls that had been donated by her china painting club. It was no surprise when we all finally got back to our table, that she had chosen a bowl painted by a fellow china painter. The works on display were a true sight to behold. I was immediately drawn to a simple bowl, crafted by “KS” (TCC South Ceramics). Don returned with a delightful, sunny flower bowl.

“Many bowls from the Fort Worth Porcelain Art Club were also included from a previous charity luncheon.” -Jo

Sitting across from us were Sabrina and Kim, who drove in from Keller. Kim picked out a neatly turned wooden bowl. What I found intriguing about her bowl, was the artist has inscribed on the bottom “Empty Bowls 2010” and signed it. Sabrina purchased a wonderful large bowl-platter. She told us it would adorn her ‘island’ with fruits and remind her of this memorable day. It is now an official ‘commemorative’ bowl, complete with instant history and a story. Truth be known, I wouldn’t mind having that bowl… it was very, very cool. Like us, this was the first time Kim and Sabrina had attended the Empty Bowl event.

It was amazing how this room of 1500+ people were mingling so well, smiling all the while. It was something that even caught Dad’s attention. He told me, “When you encounter someone face-to-face, they’re smiling. Just proves when you have food in your stomach, you’re happy.” I think Dad’s comment captures the essence of this event: “[It’s] An Artful Luncheon to End Hunger.” I wonder how many families will benefit as result of today’s effort? Hopefully they will be able to smile, too.

To be continued…

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Feb '10

Table 6: Scampi’s Mediterranean Cafe

Jo and Don in front of Scampi's

Jo and Don in the patio area of Scampi's

A Grande Finale

I simply must start this post off with a HUGE thank you to the staff at Scampi’s Mediterranean Cafe for accepting our last minute Valentine’s Day reservation. Originally we were to meet at this table on Friday, February 12, but this crazy winter that North Texas is experiencing this year put our date in jeopardy.  As I went to check Scampi’s Web site for their address and directions, I discovered we needed a reservation for the day. YIKES! We had not made one! Lucky for us, they were already prepping for the day when I called at 9:30 a.m. and agreed to seat us just an hour later. Whew! Disappointment averted. Thank you, Angel and staff, for double-checking your reservation book, ensuring our 6th table would be available.

While this will be Scampi’s last day to serve lunch for a while, it is certainly not our last table. Far from it. Where is this segue going? Scampi’s is our first (of many, we hope) recommended table! Thank you ‘Lola‘ for the great suggestion! I wish we had learned about this little secret sooner as I suspect Scampi’s would have become a regular table for our list.

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Feb '10

Table 5: Bistro LightCatcher

LightCatcher Winery

LightCatcher Winery

The Short Story

I have driven by LightCatcher Winery I don’t know how many times over the years and never even knew where it was until today. Now I know and I won’t soon forget. Each table, albeit only five so far, is the best table. Each week I anticipate the experience. I even wonder if maybe I am anticipating too much. To date, I have not been disappointed. Today’s table, LightCatcher Bistro, exceeded my expectation and easily lived up to my anticipation.

Meeting Mom and Dad in parking lot, we walked in together and were greeted by the friendly face of Cryssie Lowack, the tasting room and events manager. She seated us at a cozy corner table where we had a full view of the room. This room was filled with wine barrels and large processing equipment. They hold a number of monthly events here, and with the large space can easily accommodate any number of people from small intimate parties, to very large groups. Continue reading "Table 5: Bistro LightCatcher" »

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Feb '10

Table 4: Genghis Grill

Genghis Grill

Genghis Grill storefront

The Lighter Lunch

Remember Genghis Khan? How about Genghis Grill? We got hooked on Genghis Grill at one of the early locations in Fort Worth, located just off Hulen Street. Sadly, within 18 months of discovery, the location closed down. We were Genghisless.

Flash forward a few years, and a new store pops up on the north side Fort Worth. Naturally we had to give this one a try. I remembered the original—how good the food was and how fluid operations were, so I knew I was in for a treat. Our first visit left a lot to be desired. OK. So we went during the first month of operation and it was clear there were still some bugs to work out. We waited. Our next visit, was not much better. Management comp’d our meal and sent us some free meal coupons. Each visit seemed to present not much improvement over the previous, so we stopped going altogether. Continue reading "Table 4: Genghis Grill" »

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Jan '10

Table 3: Romano’s Macaroni Grill

I’ve got a recipe for that!

Donna, Lori, Jo and Don

Donna, Lori, Jo and Don in front of Macaroni Grill

We all have our comfort food. For us, we have a comfort table: Macaroni Grill in North Fort Worth. We’ve been dining here for nearly five years. While Macaroni Grill is part of a chain, we’ve discovered this location in particular is one of our most enjoyable places to meet and eat. The staff provides a “wonderful experience and relaxed atmosphere allowing for friendly conversations,” according to Don.

“Although it’s a chain, the individual establishment is reflective of its own management.”

We know several of the staff, and they know us. In particular, our waitress. Michelle has been with this particular store for nine years and serves as catering manager as well serving tables. Whenever possible, we sit in Michelle’s section and try to make in on days we know she’ll be working. It is odd to think that we can only meet here once this year on our adventure of 52 Tables. Today, though, we needed our Macaroni Grill and so we went.

“I feel like a guest judge on American idol.” -Lori Allen

What made today special was that we were honored by my good friend and guest gastronome, Lori Allen. I had asked to reserve her birthday lunch for us, but she was already booked solid so she joined us today. Amazingly, we all arrived from our various ports about the same time. This so rarely happens. Today it did. And, we were seated in Michelle’s section. Continue reading "Table 3: Romano’s Macaroni Grill" »