Posted tagged ‘houston’

Houston Foodie Review: Calliope’s Poboys

July 9, 2009

oysterpoboyHaving eaten in New Orleans-style eateries ever since I moved to Houston from New Jersey, I thought I had a good handle on what constituted Crescent City cuisine. I knew what gumbo was… I’ve had many Po’Boys… But little did I know that I had been missing the key to good NOLA food all along.

You see, ole boy, it’s the intricate details that distinguish good New Orleans-style sandwiches from the rest. And despite the fact that I named the Po’Boy as one of America’s Top 10 Greatest Sandwiches prior to this review, I never really had one that truly captured my taste buds in such a way as it did about two weeks ago.

It was then that DNC Attorney-At-Large and our resident Bourbon Street expert, Eric Junker, wanted to pick me up for lunch in downtown Houston. Eric said he had something specific in mind, as he had been meaning to try out a Po’Boy place by the name of Calliope’s (pron: cal-eye-oh-pees) for quite some time. You see, Junker is a true foodie when it comes to Cajun / Louisiana-style cooking. I would even go so far as to call him a snob in that respect. So I knew he would be highly critical in judging this place afterwards.

We both agreed that we discovered at Calliope’s was nothing short of what is likely to be, without a doubt, the best Po’Boy place in Houston. And not only are their ingredients fresh and high-quality, but the portions at Calliope’s are significantly larger than what you’d typically get at your typical Cajun sandwich place. I think both Eric and I were very impressed with this unassuming little shop in the warehouse district. Personally, I loved the gumbo. The oyster in there was really key.

While we were eating, Eric questioned the owner, Lisa, on just about everything from how long they cook their red beans to who makes their bread. (they do.) She even shared a little of their history with us. It turns out that they’ve had a long time to perfect their unique brand of New Orleans cuisine. Calliope’s journey actually began right in the heart of New Orleans and they’ve taken it to Hattiesburg, Mississippi before the disastrous Hurricane Katrina landed then in our space city of Houston, TX.

Co-owner Lisa Carnley had this to say about Calliope’s on their newly-formed Facebook fan page:

“We are the first in Houston of a 20 year tradition of Po’Boy shops run by our family. Our food is great because the recipes have been tweaked and polished through years of experience.

Our vision is to bring an authentic New Orleans Po’Boy to the city of Houston. It all starts with fresh cooked french bread. New Orleans style french bread has a distinctive look and texture that was particularly difficult to duplicate in Houston. Like any sandwich we are only as good as our contents. Our seafood is fried and battered to perfection. We also feature a very authentic sloppy roast beef po’boy with homemade gravy. We are confident that you won’t find a po’boy in town that can compare to ours.

Calliope’s opened in Houston on 3/24/2009. We hope that you can take the time to stop by our neighborhood, located on the edge of downtown, and check it out.”

n90240906778_780My Final Verdict is that this place is best New Orleans-style eatery in Houston. But I’m probably not the authority you should ask. I’ll leave it to Junker to give our readers his final summation of Calliope’s…

“The red beans and rice are authentic New Orleans. Hands down the best in Houston.” Says Eric. “The key is in the bread. It’s as close to anything at Mother’s or Johnny’s in the French Quarter as you’ll find. The attention to minute details sets them apart.”  – Julius Eric Junker, Attorney specializing in Estate Planning, Probate, and Wealth Management in Richmond, Texas.

Additional Information on Calliope’s:

  • Address: 2130 Jefferson, Houston, TX 77003
  • Phone: (713) 222-8333
  • Hours: Mon-Sat 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Houston Press Review of Calliope’s.
  • Diner Reviews from Yelp.

DNC Worldwide Exclusive – Rare Photos of the Endangered Mexican Lion

July 2, 2009

Breaking News – Our Venezuelan Assasin Ricardo Talavera (@ricardotalavera) has managed to traverse the wilds of Houston, TX, braving death and dismemberment, to locate the elusive Mexican Lion. As a lifelong fan of organizations like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet,  and National Geographic, I have yet to see a living example of this species. Ricardo, kudos to you for being the first to identify this rare and magnificent beast!

mexicanlion

Becoming a Dad – Painful Lesson Learned

July 1, 2009
HungoverMonkeyJAN09

I was told by a great many people that my last post on Becoming a Dad was very sweet. That was the overall reaction.  But to be fair, I’d like to give a full summation of both extremes in terms of reactions before I share another anecdote with you guys.

Most of the women, especially the more experienced ones (I won’t say “older” for fear of revenge), remarked that it was good for me that I was “finally getting it” when they talked about my desire to be home with mother-to-be. In fact, many close friends told me they were very proud of the fact that I’ve not only embraced this pregnancy with open-arms but also seem to be growing into the role of eventual father.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, calls came flooding in from the DNC Ninja support team (mainly Steve aka “Lightweight”) to rescue me from estrogen before my man-card was lost into the torrential abyss for all of eternity.

For those of you that don’t know, the DNC, on whose website this series is housed, was founded on two basic tenets: 1) personal accountability and 2) balance between professional goals and enjoyment of life aka partying. So my friends like Steve know a thing or two about being trying to maintain equilibrium in life. Well last Saturday, I was reminded of how far I still have to go in terms of mastering that balance.

The DNC crew was celebrating for two ninjas this past weekend in Rice Village. For our Houston crew, Jino, our little prodigical son, had his going-away prior to leaving for grad school at Johns Hopkins. Meanwhile, our ninjas in Baytown were also in the village bar-area to celebrate Julian’s birthday.

So there you have it,  a convergence of about twenty people, a roving band of ninjas, if you will, on a “boys night out” and hell bent on getting obliterated. Keep in mind we had none of the wives or girlfriends around to police us except for poor Katie, who tried her hardest. So what the heck happened? Well I won’t get into the details… (this  is a family-friendly site after all) but let me tell you, whatever you are thinking, the evening ended up 100x crazier than most of you responsible adults would expect. I didn’t fare the worst out of all the ninjas but I definitely made a total a$$ out of myself by the time it was all said and done. We were all hurting the next day. I still am. And its the Wednesday after.

My point to this story that I learned the hard way – Mother-to-be wasn’t the type of partner to make me stay home. Again, she encouraged me to go out with the boys. This time, I absolutely did. Balls-to-the-wall, you might say! I didn’t expect the price I ultimately had to pay and I paid it dearly the next day and beyond. Mentally, physically, emotionally, the whole nine yards. And while Megan wasn’t the type to make me stay home, she also impressed upon me that she is the type to let me hang myself without any sympathy from her. Basically, as I whimpered around the house limping in pain and wrecked mentally, all I got was snickering and I-told-you-so’s. I’m never drinking again. (for the 10,000th time but I had to throw that in there.)

I guess this might be a little glimpse into the future of raising a child with rebellious genese like his/her parents. I mean, I acted like a child myself and paid for it dearly. So I learned my own lesson. And the lesson was even more effective than any “nagging” from mother-to-be could possibly have done. I wonder, is that how it truly is? Do you have to let them fall so they learn to pick themselves up or not fall the same way again?

Just a thought…

Mike

PS –  We find out the sex of the baby next Tuesday. I am so #&$*% nervous.

Houston Restaurant Review: Jonathan’s The Rub

June 5, 2009

OssoBuccoIf you are a the kind of diner that values high-end comfort food and restaurants with a “New York feel”, I would highly recommend checking out Jonathan’s The Rub, located in Houston’s Hedwig Village off I-10 and Campbell on the west side of town.

Jonathan’s The Rub is the creation of restaurateur Jonathan Levine, who has been a private chef and caterer in and around the Memorial area for many years after moving to Houston from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Going off the recommendation of many of his clients, Jonathan finally decided to open The Rub about two years ago. The customer list has grown considerably since then but it’s excellent that the ambience and cuisine remain the same.

In a recent interview with the Houston Press, Jonathan shed some insight on how “The Rub” came into existence: “Because of the catering, I found out what everybody around here likes, and since I can cook anything, I created a menu of the favorite foods that my customers like,” he says. “All of my food is familiar food. My customers don’t want to look at the menu and have to ask what’s this and what’s that, and they certainly don’t want to look at their plate and try to figure out what’s what…One example is a dish we recently added to our menu. It’s a blue cheese broccoli casserole. Nothing complicated, but people are really going nuts over it. All of my beef is Angus beef, and I marinate my steaks in olive oil and then use a special spice rub. We have a BYOB policy, and everybody has a good time.”

Walking into the Rub on any given night, you’ll hear the sounds of the city, like Tony Bennett to Luciano Pavarotti, as you get seated and comfortable with friends and/or family. The management and wait staff, which include Jonathan’s own daughter Jessica, are all very welcoming. This is not a surprising fact given that they are used to serving a plethora of regulars, most of which they consider as almost an extended family. Diners from Hedwig Village and surrounding areas fill this spot nightly. In fact, on one of my own visits last week, I was marveling the fact when I noticed our waitress, Jessica, checking on other tables besides ours while calling every patron by name. They all knew hers as well and it just made me feel so very at home while feeling like I was on a getaway back east.

Apart from the excellent food, which I’ll get to in a little bit, a lot of the appeal of dining at Jonathan’s The Rub is due truly to the ambience. I mentioned New York before and Jonathan’s definitely has that “it” that goes along with the city. And just to let you guys know, I was born and raised around New York for more years than I’ve been in Texas so I know what I’m talking about.  Jonathan’s is small, yet intimate, with décor and a patio reminiscent of the Italian side of famed Canal Street. It’s not unlike sitting at any other spot in New York except without the hustle and bustle surrounding you. One can tell by the sights, sounds, and smells that Jonathan’s The Rub is the heart of its quaint little neighborhood. This ambience makes the diner feel like the star of the show and the beauty of it all is that Jonathan’s allows its’ customers to bring their own wine, etc. which is a treat considering that they only charge a very small corking fee.

While the ambience is truly worthwhile, what really sets Jonathan’s The Rub aside from other restaurants in Houston is Jonathan Levine’s own brand of hybrid Northeastern/Southern cuisine. The Rub features an open kitchen with Jonathan Levine cooking personally, nightly.  It’s an exciting feeling to smell the aroma of the kitchen see Jonathan back there as customers walk in, if for no other reason other than the anticipation of an excellent dining experience.

I haven’t had the chance to review the entire menu just yet but what I can tell you is that the restaurant focuses on using only the highest grade ingredients, from the meat to the produce, everything is produced local and is always fresh. Don’t let me fool you. I call it comfort food because of the considerable portions and the ambience but everything I have ever ordered there is truly high-end. From everything I’ve had, I would recommend the Baby Lamp Chops (full rack), Smoked Chops, or the Chilean Sea Bass. If you want New York Italian, try the Osso Bucco or Seafood fra Diavolo. And if you want to catch the restaurant at lunch, they have excellent 9oz. burgers as well as sweet potato fries. And last thing I’ll say is that they have the best gumbo in Houston. Truly – I challenge you to find a better one.

My Final Verdict: Jonathan’s The Rub is impressive all around. From the staff to the ambience to the excellent dishes, Jonathan’s is simplistic enough to be a comfortable casual dining experience for me, whether alone or with friends. It also has enough flair and New York appeal for me to bring a date there. In fact, it’s perfect for those occasions because you can bring your own bottle of vino and Jonathan’s daughter Jessica will remember you by name and make your guest feel at home as well. Jonathan’s The Rub has all its bases covered. 10/10!

 

Jonathan’s The Rub
9061 Gaylord St 
Houston TX 77024
713.465.8200

Hours: Lunch 11-2:20 Monday thru Friday Dinner starts at 5:30 and we stay open in response to demand. Sunday is our day of rest.

Health Considerations: Low Carb, Low Fat, Sugar Free, MSG Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Lactose Free Dairy, Vegetarian

Chef’s Suggestions

  • Appetizer: Chesapeake Crab Cakes or Meatballs
  • Soup: Chicken and Sausage gumbo
  • Salad: House with our homemade House Dressing
  • Entree: I cook everything with LOVE. – Chilean sea Bass!!!
  • Sides: Blue Cheese Broccoli, Mac n 5 Cheeses
  • Dessert: Italian Lemon Cream Cake

Message from Jonathon’s The Rub
Chef John Levine
Seafoods, Steak & Chops
Full Service Catering

Jonathon’s The Rub is a small, upscale restaurant and caterer in Hedwig Village that has developed its own meat rubs and offers foods from an open kitchen to regulars and first-timers. Chef Jon Levine changes the menu slightly every day, featuring seafood, Italian specialties and steaks and chops. Dine in our small and intimate dining room, reminiscent of New York City, with an open kitchen where the owner Chef Jonathan and Chef Julio prepare your meal right in front of you. Our customer favorites include our Chilean Sea Bass to our incredible nine oz burger. Try our Seafood Fra Diavolo, teeming with tender lobster, fresh mussels, scallops and shrimp and a portion generous enough to enjoy the next day. We offer fine full service catering throughout the Houston area. The Rub is BYOB, so bring a bottle of your favorite wine or beer. Jonathon’s The Rub is open Monday through Saturday.

Lonestar Beatdown 10 in Houston this Friday, June 5th

June 3, 2009

3lonestar10

Lonestar Beatdown 10 is coming to Houston, TX this Friday, June 5th.

The card will be a strong one for the Arena Theatre crowd as LSBD has put together THREE title fights for this event. Plenty of ninjas will be on hand as officials for the event, which is sure to bring some fireworks. Elite MMA’s Julian Vega also makes his MMA debut against Vicente Gama of Rising Sun in a match that is a sure bet to NOT make it to the judges scorecards!

Ticket Information – There is literally not a single bad seat at the house at this venue and tickets are going quickly. You can still get yours at www.arenahouston.com. Doors open at 6:30pm and the fights start at 8pm.

 

 

Full Lonestar Beatdown 10 Fight Card

  • 145 USACA Title – Jeremy Hontz (Twin Wolves) vs. Dominic Rodriguez (4oz. fight club)
  • 155 USACA Title – Greg Bellomy (Gracie Barra) vs. Gilbert Jimenez (Powerhouse MMA)
  • 170 USACA Title – Kenny Burke (Westside MMA) vs. Nathan Schaefer (TX Gladiators)

125
Bobby Powers (B3 Sports) vs. Andy Sandoval (Death Row MMA)
Martin Garcia (Gracie Barra) vs. Ed Rosino (Bushi Ban)

135
Marcus Dupar (Rocky Long MMA) vs. Ben Oliver (Elite MMA)

145
Alex Black (Bushi Ban) vs. Mario Valenzuela (Sub Boxing)

155
Aaron Croon (Team Tooke) vs Arnold Gutierrez (Legion MMA)
Vicente Gama (Rising Sun Karate) vs. Julian Vega (Elite MMA Baytown)
Cesar Gonzales (Silverback MMA) vs. Waylon Ward (Kuk Sool Won)

170
Travis Moore (Twin Wolves) vs. Michael Szanyi (World Martial Arts)
Justin Murray (Bushi Ban) vs. Alex Morono (Gracie Barra Woodlands)
Dominik Bukovicky (Elite MMA) vs. Jeremy Morris (World Martial Arts)
George Cisneros (Team Martinez) vs. Mike Castillo (McCalls MMA)
Jonathon Harris (Sub Boxing) vs. Robert Ezzell (Bradford Combat Academy)

185
John Malbrough (UH MMA) vs. Matt Goss (Rising Sun Karate)

205
Jermaine Anugwom (AMMA) vs. Artineas Young (Hoger MMA)

HVY
Jayson Pilosi (BVMMA) vs. Tim Escobedo (Legion MMA)

*Fight card subject to change without notice

Behind-the-Scenes of Creating a Live MMA Event

March 5, 2009
Ninja Ricardo (right) during the weigh-ins before his fight at Lonestar Beatdown. Ricardo won via anaconda choke in the 1st round.

Our very own Ricardo Talavera (right) during the weigh-ins before his fight at Lonestar Beatdown 1 in College Station, TX. Ricardo won via anaconda choke in the 1st round.

For the general public, attending a live MMA event can be a very exciting experience. Fans usually walk away satisfied as they take in the visual spectacle that is the explosive nature of Mixed Martial Arts. From seeing the fighters twisting their opponents’ limbs at unnatural angles for the submission to the brawl-for-it-all nature of combatants going for a knockout, there is no doubt that watching this sport live can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the casual fan.

 
What most people do not see, however, is the amount of detail and hard work that goes into producing a live event. As a USACA-licensed Official for Lonestar Beatown, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing all the effort that goes into providing a succesful experience for everyone involved. And it’s certainly not only the fans that the promoter has to worry about! Many other aspects behind-the-scenes have to be taken care of in order for an event to become successful. A portion of this includes compliance with athletic commissions, the relationship between the event and the gyms involved in training fighters, event promotion, and of course making sure everything flows efficiently when fight night arrives.
 
Here in Texas, as with most other states where MMA is legal, not just any Joe-Schmo-Dana-White-Wannabe off the street can be a fight promoter. One has to obtain an official promoter’s license before they are legally allowed to host an MMA event. This role is reserved for those who have the desire and wherewithall to complete the tedious application process to become licensed by the state athletic commission. The cost can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, all for the right to host MMA events. And just like promoters, all ringside officials must be licensed by the state as well. This includes timekeepers, referrees, scorecard managers, and judges.
 
Next, there is the task of setting up the fight card. This is placed in the charge of the event matchmaker, who always has a difficult task ahead of him. The reasons are numerous! First of all, matching up fighters isn’t just about finding two guys the same weight and telling them to go at it. There are other aspects to consider, such as the amount of experience, tangible skill-level, and the stylistic matchup between opponents. For this, the matchmaker has to create and nurture a relationship with the coaches & trainers of prospective fighters. It is through this and the trust implied that the matchmaker can truly gauge who should be fighting whom and whether they are truly ready to step into the cage. Once the bouts are set the matchmaker has to keep working as fighters can drop out at any time, for any reason. Nonetheless, it is the matchmaker’s job to ensure that the fans see exciting fights on the night of the live event, and enough of them to feel like they got their money’s worth.
 
Also, once the promoter arranges for the ideal venue for the event, the event has be marketed to a cross-section of casual fans, die-hards, and gym all across the local area. This typically involves a grass-roots effort of the fighters and the gyms they represent. Usually, those associated with the gladiators involved make up a healthy portion of the attendance. Above and beyond that, additional promotional channels include print publications and the all-powerful internet. Websites like txmma.com, mopthemats.com, and mma.tv do a great job of promoting MMA events locally here in Houston.
 
Finally, on the night of the live event, there are about a million things going on at the same time behind-the-scenes. From the officials and fighters all the way down to the ushers and medics, everyone has a place to be and a role to play. The fighters warm up with their coaches, the ushers make sure fans get seated in orderly fashion, the officials and ringside physician take their places, etc. The event can only go well through the cohesive teamwork of everyone involved. Remember, It’s not just knockouts and tapouts guys.

We’ll see you at the fights on March 28st!

 
 
12354951572lonestar8_c2 Lone Star Beatdown 8  brings amateur cage fighting to Houston on  March 28th 2009. The venue for the event is the Houston Arena Theater. Tickets – $20/$35/$50 now available at www.ticketmaster.com.

Holiday Pot Luck Dinner Invitation

December 18, 2008
Houston People – We are hosting a Holiday Pot Luck Dinner this Saturday, December 20th at our Westchase location. Simply reply here if you are interested in joining us for eats before a night of eggnog (or bullblasters) to celebrate the holiday season.

Event: DNC Annual Holiday Pot Luck Dinner
When:
December 20, 2008
Where:
DNC Westchase
Time:
6:30pm

Contribution List (updated as of Thursday Night, 12/20)

  • Kris – “Beerducken” – Whole Turkey marinated with beer and stuffing
  • Erica L. – Her Famous Loaded Potatoes
  • Mike – Fresh Ceasar Salad w/ Homemade Dressing
  • Megan – Grilled Organic Lamb Steak
  • Ashley D. – Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Shabs – Turtle Cheesecake
  • Kim – Hummingbird Cake
  • Mariam – Jolly Ranchers
ninjacake

Comment with what you are bringing otherwise you can always wash the dishes!