Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trip to Bountiful Calvert

A long anticipated trip to Cocoamoda Chocolate Boutique & Restaurant in Calvert confirmed what many people have told me. Cocoamoda offers a first class dining experience at first class prices.

I have always had reservations about spending $100 for a dinner for two in Central Texas. Could anything in this area be as good as the top tier of restaurants in Austin? In Ft. Worth? In Dallas? The logical answer is probably not but there are some things that just defy logic.

It is not exactly a short drive down Highway 6 to Calvert, Texas. With only 1,350 people and shrinking, you would not expect to find a chocolate factory and first class eatery in the middle of town.

The restaurant is small only a few tables that will seat 25 maybe 30 people. The staff is limited but expert in their handling of guests. I can recommend both the appetizers and the soups as well conceived and delicious. The Cocoamoda Shrimp was very unusual. I am not sure about the soggy pastry under the jumbo shrimp but the dark chocolate sauce (made from their wonderful recipe) gave the shrimp a slightly sweet mole flavor. The salads suffered from a little dryness due to being made ahead. The outstanding blackberry vinaigrette dressing almost made up for the slightly wilted greens.

My lamb chops were very good. They came pan fried and seasoned to a bright red-orange color. The presentation could have been a nice one accept for the pool of red-orange oil that ran amok on the plate as it drained from the chops. Although it did not affect the flavor, it was one of the few missteps of the evening.

One of the menu specials was Beef Wellington. Delicious pastry surrounded a very large piece of tender beef. The portion was certainly more than one person should eat. Both entrees were accompanied by carefully prepared vegetables. Asparagus, carrots, and mashed potatoes were all tasty.

Cocoamoda also has some huge lobsters. These 3 to 5 pound monsters were carefully dissected by the wait staff and served with drawn butter. They looked great.

There are some desserts on the menu but if chocolates are their specialty, why would you try the pumpkin pie?

Cocoamoda is a great place for a special occasion or a day-trip adventure. Do make reservations. Take advantage of their BYOB situation at least through May 2011.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Top Choices in Waco

A New List

Top Restaurants

Cheeves Brothers (Temple) - Not a bargain but excellent beef and side dishes

1424 - For adults looking for a moderately priced evening/Greek influence

Elite Circle Grille - Nice bar and decent but not great food

135 Prime - Good steaks, not great but very good

Top Chains (not BBQ or Mexican)

Cheddar's - very consistent with just plain good food.

Panera Bread Company

Pei Wei - not a good representative of this chain's quality

Top Barbecue

Bunkhouse Barbecue (Clifton, TX)


Michna's Barbecue

Uncle Dan's Barbecue and Rib House


Bangkok Royal (Thai) - Really the only Thai in Waco but good

Tokyo - Japanese Steakhouse

Park's Buffet - Best country buffet around

D's Chicken - Middle Eastern in Waco

Top Burgers

Kitok's Restaurant


Cricket's Grill & Drafthouse

Cupps - Breakfast and lunch counter

Top Tex/Mex


Don Carlos - This Houston import has its ups and downs but is a good value


El Tapatio

Top Italian



Tokyo Road

After three visits to Tokyo in the last month, you might think I have gone overboard on the newest Japanese Steakhouse in Waco. Located on Franklin Avenue in the former TGIFridays location, Tokyo is a very nice addition to Waco. Waco now has 4 very similar Japanese Steakhouse restaurants. Tokyo certainly tops its numerous rivals.

After an extensive remodeling that seemed to take forever, Tokyo offers a fresh and clean look that is both comfortable and engaging. The Hibachi grill service is similar to others that you have probably experienced but Tokyo's attractive sushi bar and table service set it apart from other restaurants. The service was not quite as knowledgeable as it could have been but was attentive and swift.

The menu is reasonably priced compared to the other choices in Waco. It offers some combination opportunities not found at the others. Most of the entrees come with a generous dinner salad with a very tangy Asian dressing and some unique little crispy bits of crunch sprinkled on top. I have enjoyed the glazed salmon on two visits - once at lunch and again in combination at dinner. I have found the Bento Boxes to be a good value both at lunch or dinner.

I usually do not eat raw fish in Waco but the sushi I have tasted at Tokyo has been both fresh and tasty. Don't be afraid to ask for a sample of any of the choices before committing to a full order.

Compared to the other three Japanese Steakhouses - Tokyo is at the top.