Cravings

Howdy, howdy! How’s everyone doing? I know a lot of restaurants are doing take-out and/or delivery, but we’re so far away from a lot of our favorite places that those options aren’t really feasible. So, while I’m perfectly content to stay at home, I do admit that I occasionally miss going out for food. I was supposed to go to the dentist for a cleaning yesterday, which would normally have meant stopping for food (probably Mexican) afterwards. Due to Covid-19, the dentist canceled my appointment. I didn’t really care, but it meant no flan for me. Sadness. Anyway, it got me thinking about some things I’m looking forward to if the businesses survive this whole pandemic thing and I can eventually leave the house.

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It’s the whole reason I leave the house 95% of the time.

1. Cajun and bread pudding. Specifically from The Free Man in Deep Ellum. It’s been a long time since we’ve been down there because of all the crap that was going on. Hopefully things will stay calm for a while after the pandemic (I doubt it). At least long enough for us to hit up a couple of places before everything goes to shit again.

2. Seafood. Half Shells. Because it’s been too long since we’ve been there. It’s just so far away and we don’t have many excuses to go out that way. Granted, we only go there once every four or five months, but we haven’t been since mid-December, so it’s around that time when oysters, fish, and a nice cocktail sound good.

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Stolen from Google and has nothing to do with Xquinkles, but it’s pretty.

3. Fresas con crema y un malteada (strawberries and cream and a milkshake). The fruteria down the street is called Xquinkles. Dad’s been buying me cookies for my sweet tooth, so I can hold off a while on this, but pick up is an option here. Maybe the next time we want a burger from the place next door to this one we can order from here too. They close early though (8pm), so probably not.

4. Irish food. Trinity Hall Irish Pub. It’s getting a little warm for hearty potato-filled goodness, but I could still go for a black and tan with a Dublin bay casserole and something yummy for dessert. Luckily, Dad made a shepherd’s pie recently, so that will tide me over ’til summer makes an exit. Maybe by then we’ll be able to venture out into the world again. I doubt it, but there’s no harm in positive thinking.

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Pad Thai from Bangkok at Greenville’s Facebook page.

5. Thai food. Maybe Tukta Thai or Bangkok at Greenville. Some tom kha gai and black rice pudding. Yummy. Maybe when everything is over we’ll take a ride to one of these places.

Anyway, that’s some of the food I miss during this whole quarantine thing. What about you? What are some of the places you’re looking forward to eating at if life returns to normal? Any dishes in particular that you could go for right now? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or lists or comments here or on my social media pages!

A Look Inside the Free Man Cajun Cafe and Lounge

Hi there!  Since I didn’t get a chance to do a food review last month, here’s one early this month.  This week, I’ll introduce you to the Free Man Cajun Cafe and Lounge.  It’s another one of Deep Ellum’s many restaurants, also on Commerce Street (up the road from the Dancing Marlin, actually).  Check out their website (linked above) for their address and other information.  Also, it’s not a seafood place!

Here’s a reminder of the rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

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A look around the place.

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Accessibility… It’s actually really accessible unless they’re super packed and you have to squeeze all the way into the back for a table.  Even then, it’s mostly just a matter of asking people to move, which is definitely one of my least favorite things to do.  Most people are super nice about it, but it’s still not something I enjoy.  Anyway, I like the table set up at Free Man’s.  Aside from being a good height, the half-booth half-chair arrangement is good for me AND lets whomever I’m with have a choice (namely, Dad).

The service here is kind of hit and miss in a lot of ways.  A lot of the time, I’m invisible, but occasionally (like this last time) I’m treated normally.  To be fair, we usually go when there’s live music (7pm-2am every day), so it’s really hard to hear me anyway, but I prefer it when waiters at least try to talk to me.  We went last Thursday around four in the afternoon, so maybe that’s why the waitress treated me like a person right off the bat.  Also, sometimes the staff is really attentive, sometimes not.  It just depends on how busy they are.  Speaking of busy, if they are super busy, the food comes out fairly slow, but if they’re not, it has a tendency to come out boom boom boom, so take that into account when you order.

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Blackened shrimp cocktail and hot crab dip.

Onto the thing everyone cares about: the food!  We went with the blackened shrimp cocktail and the hot crab dip for appetizers this time.  It was our first time trying the cocktail, and I’m happy to say it was super yummy.  There was a little spice to it, but not much, and the shrimp were nicely cooked.  As far as the crab dip goes, it’s cheese, crab, and bread!  You can’t go wrong.

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My Cajun crawfish pasta.
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Dad’s crawfish etouffee.
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Half-eaten gumbo (it’s hard to remember pictures when food is around).

The entrees.  Back when we first started going to Free Man’s, the menu was extremely limited (not a bad thing at all).  They still have a fairly small selection, but it’s slowly growing.  My go-to is usually the Cajun crawfish pasta.  It’s got a lovely creamy sauce and they top it with chicken.  I love it.  Dad went for the etouffee this time, which is also delicious.  They don’t make it too spicy, but they have a number of hot sauces on the table for you heat lovers to choose from.  We also split a cup of gumbo (yum!).  They do it right!  Plus, the entrees come with a hunk of cornbread.  I’m not a big fan of cornbread, but this stuff has won me over.  Try it.  You might like it.

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Bacon cheesecake with a bite missing.
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Cut into cranberry wheat bread pudding (aka Heaven on a plate).

The dessert!  Again, you have a limited choice, but that’s totally okay here.  Dad tried the bacon cheesecake (something new since our last trip).  Sounds absolutely amazing, right?  Looks tasty, no?  Honestly, it’s kind of meh.  It’s one of those “at least we can say we tried it” experiences.  The bread pudding, on the other hand, has got to be the BEST pudding of its kind that has entered my mouth.  You want a foodgasm?  Go get some.  Don’t like bread pudding?  Try it anyway!

And now, the thing no one wants to talk about: the price.  It’s not the cheapest meal you can find, but it’s not horribly expensive.  Go one evening, listen to some live jazz, and relax.  You’ll get your money’s worth.

My overall rating:
MMMM

See you next week!