Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lunch and a Show

We set off for brisket and smoked sausage, but Chuck got stuck in the left turn lane and we missed our right turn. Since we had arrived hungry in Kerrville an hour earlier and had unhitched and connected all of our water and electrical systems before heading out for something to eat, we wanted food and wanted it fast. There before us was Billy Gene’s Restaurant (in Kerrville, TX) which bills itself as “…flavors of the hill country.” To Billy Gene’s we went.

Billy Gene’s is situated on the banks of the Guadalupe River and we were lucky to be seated at the window which gave us a great view. While there is an outdoor dining patio, heavy winds that day kept all diners inside.

The restaurant’s menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, a limited number of appetizers, and a long list of steak and chicken dinners. The day’s lunch special was Chicken Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn for $6.49. It should come as no surprise that Chuck chose this for his lunch (lower serving in the photo). I finally decided on the Chicken Fried Steak (we are in Texas after all), and for my sides I chose mashed potatoes and grilled mixed vegetables. To let you know what a sacrifice the choice of vegetables was, I passed up fried okra, onion rings, French fries, and cole slaw. I really wanted the fried okra but thought that one fried item on my plate would be more than enough. Our waitress asked if I wanted the whole or half portion of meat and I went for it – a whole portion for me.

Chuck enjoyed his fried boneless skinless chicken breast but felt that it didn’t have the magic of the same dish as Chef Roy’s in Rayne, LA. Decidedly missing was the extreme crunch that came from a coating that was crisp but not hard. The beans and corn were beans and corn – well cooked but not exactly memorable.

Next, the mashed potatoes. First, I must admit that I don’t like mashed potatoes. My father did. He liked mashed potatoes so much that they appeared five or six times a week on our family table. I vowed that, when I did my own cooking, mashed potatoes would seldom appear on my menu. Too bad for Chuck. He loves mashed potatoes and Thanksgiving is his favorite day, because I would prepare both dressing and mashed potatoes. So it takes a really great mashed potato to get my attention, and these were not great mashed potatoes. I’m not sure if they came from a box, but they were watery and bland.

But my Chicken Fried Steak was very good. A crisp crust covered a juicy and well seasoned piece of chopped steak. Before battering, the steak must have had a liberal application of black pepper, which, when coupled with the black pepper in the while gravy, made this a very tasty entrée. I will admit that Chuck ate about a quarter of my portion, but only the mashed potatoes were left on my plate when I finished.

By the way, I learned the other night when watching the Travel Channel what differentiates Chicken Fried Steak from Country Fried Steak. Chicken Fried comes with white cream gravy; Country Fried comes with brown gravy. Count me as a Chicken Fried person.

Our lunch was good – with the exception of the potatoes – but not great, but Billy Gene’s still warrants a score of 4.0 (out of 5.0) Addies.

A short drive to the Kerrville-Schreiner Park brought us to another section of the Guadalupe River and a few entertaining ducks.

These four seemed to be floating with the current. They seemed oblivious to the activity of their neighbors just a few yards away.

For one (right), the easy access to the river and the nearby concrete walkway provided a space for grooming and drying out following a bath under the warm sun. Grooming was approached in a rather leisurely manner.

For others (left and below), a breeze and the sun provided some assistance in the process of drying out.

But it was the activity of two others that provided both entertainment and an appreciation of the work that goes into taking a bath.


From yesterday's question: The moss-like substance we noticed on some of the trees is called ball moss. It's not moss, not a parasite, but a plant that attaches itself to a tree, a fence post, or even a stone. It survives by absorbing water and nutrients form the atmosphere.

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