Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Impression,...

and it’s only an impression, is that Galveston residents leave the restaurants along Seawall Boulevard, Harborside, and The Strand to tourists and day-trippers and instead seek out smaller (and quieter) places away from the action to dine. Today we visit one of the locals’ favorites—Farley Girls Café.
“These would be the new girls in town, except that their family started some of the most successful restaurants on the island, including The Spot. Locals rave that Farley Girls’ brunch is the place to be on Sundays. In a vintage corner storefront that was Schutte’s Corner for years, Farley Girls is a short walk to most of the popular Historic East End neighborhood and UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch). The Duzich sisters, who named the restaurant after their mother’s maiden name, advertise ‘a little bit of everything...’” (outsmartmagazine).
“Rosmond Duzich Thormahlen and Ryanne Duzich are local Galveston girls, however, they are not BOI’s, but like to consider themselves ‘Imports’ with just as much love and commitment as a BOI to Galveston. (Ed. Note: BOI=Born On Island) Rosmond graduated from Johnston and Wales University in Miami. The school finalized her love for the restaurant world as Johnston and Wales was an all encompassing school, helping her to bring together her life experiences with a fundamental culinary education…. Ryanne has always been interested in the restaurant business. However, her traits are a bit different than her sister’s. Ryanne is highly experienced with front of the house operations…. Ryanne also attended culinary school in Austin, Texas, to gain more culinary knowledge…. The Duzich girls were just recently given an opportunity to take over the only restaurant in the hospital district in Galveston, an offer they could not pass up. With their rich history in the seafood industry, recreational fishing, and restaurants, the girls have put their passion to work on their beloved island” (farleygirls.com).

The café’s décor was minimal, consisting of brick walls, white tables and chairs that reminded me of either a garden party or wedding reception,
and a wine display on one interior wall.

And I was somewhat surprised, given the café’s prices, that Farley Girls is an order-at-the-counter restaurant. Once you have ordered, you are given a buzzer, which signals when it is time to retrieve your food from the counter.

While the café wasn’t busy the afternoon of our visit, we had the misfortune to take a seat in close proximity to two gentlemen—one of whom never stopped talking in a loud voice the entire time we were there. If his dining companion hadn’t uncrossed and recrossed his legs at one point, I would have feared that he had literally been bored to death.
As was noted earlier, the menu is a “little bit of everything.” The sandwich list includes fish or shrimp tacos, barbeque pulled pork, a French dip, a fried egg/bacon/cheese creation called Good Morning Galveston, a poor boy, hamburger, and a triple-decker club.

It was from this list that Chuck made his choice—the Mile High Meatloaf.
It started with a slice of grilled Texas toast on which sat a good-sized serving of red skin-on mashed potatoes. Next came a slice of meatloaf that had to be an inch and a-half thick. Next came some “onion strings” which immediately reminded us of the marvelous onion rings we find in Cajun Louisiana. (There is a strong Cajun presence in eastern Texas.) And all of this was drizzled with a slightly sweet barbecue sauce. Chuck was in meatloaf heaven and somehow managed to devour the entire portion without taking a breath.

I went to the “Hot Stuff” section of the menu where the choices included fried shrimp or fish, two pasta offerings, grilled salmon, mac and cheese, and roasted chicken. One selection was the grilled steak bowl with grilled chimichurri-marinated steak, layered on top of rice, black beans, and roasted vegetables. This sounded delicious but I have been craving shrimp and grits since I passed them by at Lo-Lo’s in Phoenix.
Farley Girls’ version began with grits blended with smoked gouda and mushrooms upon which sat seven or eight lightly seasoned shrimp. (One of the great things about Galveston is that you can get fresh Gulf shrimp in almost every restaurant.) And the dish was garnished with lightly sautéed spinach and fresh chopped tomatoes. This was as rich as it was delicious and half of my grits came home with me for breakfast the following morning.

As delicious as was the food—and the food merits 5.0 Addies—I found Farly Girls to be an uncomfortable experience. One that I can only attribute to the brusque and nearly surly person who took our order. When that person represents the only one-on-one interaction a diner has with a restaurant, it can influence your perception of the whole experience. I might—only might—understand if we were among those who dither or talk on our cell phones while ordering. But we had reviewed the menu on-line before visiting and knew what we wanted to order. And I don’t talk on the phone under any circumstances.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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