Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vroom!!! Vroom!!! Vroom!!!

Is this a movie set for a remake of The Wild One (Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin)? Or Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson)? Or She Devils on Wheels (no one you’ve ever heard of)?

No. It’s Saturday in Temecula, CA.

Lunch was at the “biker bar” otherwise known as Texas Lil’s. This restaurant is biker friendly even though the patio fence does have signs conveying a cautionary admonition about proper bike exhaust protocol. (In short, don’t blow your bike exhaust on those eating on the patio.)

The menu is a carnivore’s delight. Meat lovers can chose from: the breaded and fried Pork Cutlet Steak covered with mushroom gravy and served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and steamed vegetables; BBQ or au jus brisket with two sides and cornbread; the two-pound baby back ribs plate with two sides and cornbread; broiled chicken breast with either ranchero, marinara, teriyaki, BBQ sauces or blackened; Cowboy Pasta topped with Texas red chili, cheddar cheese, and onions; steaks; and burgers.

Chuck’s aunt Margaret and cousin Sandra shared an order of the Nachos Paquito. This was a veritable mountain of multicolored tortilla chips, beans, red chili, two types of melted cheese, olives, tomato, jalapeños, scallions, sour cream, and guacamole. I give them credit. At the end of the meal only about a half dozen chips remained. It’s a good thing that they didn’t order the Nachos Grande.

The minute I saw Chicken Fried Steak on the menu, I knew what Chuck would be eating. This was a lightly breaded steak deep fried to a crackling crispness. Deep frying is Chuck’s favorite way of preparing Chicken Fried Steak, and he was in crunch nirvana. And under this crackling crust was a third of an inch thick piece of tender and juicy meat with nary a speck of fat or gristle. With it came a good-sized serving of mashed potatoes with country gravy and a side of steamed broccoli, snow peas, onions, and cauliflower. (The cauliflower went uneaten.) Chuck’s response to his steak was that it gave Mike Piper’s (Hill Country Café in Kerrville, TX) strong competition. But it lacked the stalagmites of batter that Mike achieves, and to my taste, the gravy needed more black pepper. But Chuck was happy and that’s what matters.

My first food entry on this blog extolled the virtues of the Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich. This sandwich is almost never found outside of the Midwest, and if it appears on a menu elsewhere your first guess is that the restaurant chef or owner is from the Midwest, e.g., The Iowa Café in Mesa, AZ. And yet, here in the Central Valley of California, I found what is the best Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich that I have ever eaten.

The Midwest version is a thin (quarter inch, if that) slice of meat—breaded, fried, and topped with yellow mustard, onion, and hamburger dills. But Texas Lil’s put a California twist on this Iowa institution. First, the meat cutlet was thicker, at least a third of an inch thick, if not thicker. Second, it came topped with avocado, lettuce, tomato, and that most unlikely of condiments—wasabi mayo. And it came on a whole wheat hamburger roll.

Did it work? Yes. The pork cutlet had the same crackling crust as Chuck’s Chicken Fried Steak. And the combination of the crisp cutlet and the soft and buttery avocado were the perfect pairing. And the wasabi mayo enhanced the flavor of the entire sandwich.

Do I have any complaints? Yes – inattentive service. Sandra asked our server-with-cleavage for a “Coke with no ice.” She got an order of “coconut rice.” Trying to get a refill on any drink was a challenge, as was getting our check. I suspect that “four old people” were not her favorite customers.

With that said, I will still give Texas Lil’s 4.5 Addies.

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