Chow, Baby: Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Suthern Star

Chow, Baby had that hungry-crabby-crankiness that results when the first lunch place you try is closed because of family illness (get well soon), the second place has new locks on the doors because, according to the landlord’s posted sign, they didn’t pay their rent (that’s a shame), and the third place simply doesn’t exist (OK, now it’s some kind of conspiracy). Not wanting to give up its hard-won tree-shaded parking space, possibly the only one in all of North Richland Hills, Chow, Baby scanned the shimmering horizons of Rufe Snow Drive just north of Loop 820 for walking-distance possibilities. Let’s see, Chinese, Mex, Tex-Mex, barbecue ... wait, this one’s perfect for Chow, Baby’s mood: something called Suthern Comfort (6455 Hilltop Dr., North Richland Hills). At the very least, Chow, Baby could vent for a paragraph just on the stupid name.
Tired, hot, and hungry, Chow, Baby crossed Rufe Snow (that’s the suburbs for you; from the gaping expressions of the drivers-by, you’d have thought they were witnessing Jesus trudging on the water) and into an empty, bland, lukewarm dining room — with a buffet (lunch $6.29). Great; so now we’re going to have empty, bland, lukewarm food, too. First move: into the “pub” side, emanating happy sounds from jukebox and actual people. Second move: loading up the plate with what turned out to be amazingly good fried chicken (light and crunchy batter; greasy, but good fresh grease), nicely doctored green beans, mashed with excellent homestyle gravy, and fresh, flaw-free fruit salad. The menu promises all manner of well-priced homestyle meals: full breakfast, sandwiches and burgers, steak and chicken dinners, even an “after hours” (after 9 p.m., that is) menu of sandwiches and bar food.
The menu also reports, “We have 40 years’ experience in this type of restaurant.” Chow, Baby was dripping chicken grease on and musing over that when the server, who did look familiar, stopped by to explain why everything tasted so good: This is Peggie Brewer’s new place! Of the late Peggie and Ivy’s Ol’ South on Belknap! No wonder the smoking area, as always, is the place to be! So it wasn’t a conspiracy that led Chow, Baby roundaboutly here, but merely a reminder from the foodie gods: Not all great homecooking joints are on U.S. highways sandwiched between thrift stores and cheap motels. Thanks, gods, but next time please just send an e-mail.

That’s Why They Call It
“Dead” Line
The front-row view from Fish Bone Grill (816 N. Collins St., Arlington) is the Cowboys stadium construction, where ... nothing seems to be happening. At all. Guess that’s the difference between a 2009 deadline and a this-Friday deadline; those workers were moving even more slowly than Chow, Baby was. Chow, Baby, though, can at least claim workers’ comp for being fried-food logy and on the fast track to nap-land. On this hot day the grilled sampler platter (mahi mahi, salmon, and tilapia, $9.95) would have been the smart choice. But no, Chow, Baby had to have one of Fish Bone’s famously fabulous deep-fried platters (the “Mate,” $12.95), choosing big ol’ popcorn crawfish tails, golden oysters, and tender clams. Add deep-fried fries and deep-fried hush puppies, and Chow, Baby was very grateful that Fish Bone is the kind of low-key, comfy place where it can drowse by a front window, watching nothing move, as its own deadline whooshes by.
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