Chow, Baby: Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Weighing the Options

Well, the whopping eight pounds that Chow, Baby lost in November has stayed lost, justifying an entire new wardrobe. On a Fort Worth Weekly salary, that means another installment in our occasional series, “Eateries near Thrifteries.”
Of Thrift Town’s three Tarrant locations, Chow, Baby likes the one on Grapevine Highway; it’s hard to find (whaddya mean, the 26/183 split?) and therefore not as crowded. For less than a ten-spot Chow, Baby scored a pair of black jeans and a black t-shirt — neither of them XXL! — and then cruised up the highway looking for a place to fatten up again. From the outside (a former Braum’s), Café di Roma, 7012 Grapevine Hwy., Richland Hills, looks like one of those places that serve four-hour-old pizza slices. But inside, it’s not your neighborhood Joe’s: It’s muted and cool, Dino-on-the-Muzak peaceful, with real cloth napkins and familiar entrées made extra-special with freshly prepared sauces, a different one for nearly every dish. Crab-stuffed mushrooms ($6.95) were great, with a tomato-cream sauce that had Chow, Baby wiping the plate clean with good warm bread. Veal Genevez ($8.95 lunch) held tender slices of meat sautéed with portabella mushrooms, but it was the dazzling creamy cognac sauce that had Chow, Baby begging for more.
Chow, Baby doesn’t so much mind the e-Bay prices at the Salvation Army on Northeast 28th Street; after all, the funds go to help people who are even worse off financially than Weekly columnists. But the $4.99 food-stained t-shirts aren’t sorted by size, and the only thing Chow, Baby has less of than money is patience. Unfortunately Chow, Baby wasted enough time in rack-digging to just miss the $4.95 lunch specials (10am-3pm, Mon-Fri) at El Puerto, 2700 NE 28th St., and could have bought a whole outfit with what it blew on the dinner menu. Filete al mojo de ajo ($9.25) wasn’t worth it; the fish was cooked on only one side, and the ceviche effect on the other side wasn’t pleasant. Plus the garlic/oil marinade dripped all over Chow, Baby’s shirt; there’s another one for the donation bin.
Remembering that losing a whopping six pounds means it no longer needs to wear slimming all-black all the time, Chow, Baby picked up several bright orange shirts at Texas Thrift in Arlington (which sorts its clothes by size and color and the tag color that’s on sale that day, thank you). Though perhaps it should stick with non-fluorescent tones: Even still in the bag, the t-shirts clashed violently with the lavender décor at Rob’s Korner Soul Food, 1309 S. Cooper St., Arlington. The bigger clash, though, was between Chow, Baby’s expectations (the place has “soul food” in its very name!) and its too-tough pork chop (lunch $5.99, with two sides). The chop was thick, and the housemade brown gravy smothering it was marvelously seasoned, but the meat itself refused to fall apart as it should. Same problem with Chow, Baby’s shopping companion’s beef tips: great flavor, but too much knife-resistance. Both could have used more simmer time. The sides didn’t have that extra attention that soul-food spots traditionally pay; the green beans had no chunks of ham, the mac and cheese had no flavor, and the yams were oddly al dente. Rob’s has had good buzz since it opened last August, so perhaps this was just one bad day. Though a good day for Chow, Baby’s efforts at keeping off that whopping three pounds.

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