Chow, Baby: Thursday, February 25, 2004
It’s Just Lunch

It’s Just Lunch

Boy, Chow, Baby envies you folks with regular jobs. Health benefits. Paychecks in the triple digits. Best friends who you’ll never see again if one of you transfers. Getting up at the same time every morning, whether you want to or not. And when noon rolls around, you don’t spend hours chasing down spurious leads to allegedly great spots. (“Dear Chow, Baby: There’s a new Tex-Mex place not far off I-30 somewhere west of downtown.”) No, you lucky dogs get only 45 minutes for lunch. You want something fast, good, and in the ’hood, right? Chow, Baby is just guessing.

If you work in Bedford, Big Fat Greek Buffet (209 Bedford Rd. near Brown Tr.) is in your ’hood. The hushed, softly lit room has a small buffet ($6.95 lunch, $8.95 dinner) but the offerings are fresh. Particularly good was the build-your-own Greek salad: a large bowl of fresh greens with kalamata olives and feta cheese with satellites of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, pepperoncinis, and tangy tzatziki dressing. Garlicky hummus was delicious, though the dolmas were lame: too-tough grape leaves outside, too-soggy beef/rice mixture inside.

Entrée offerings change daily. It was Chow, Baby’s bad luck to miss spinach pie, moussaka, lamb shanks, and pastitsio, but the roast chicken and build-your-own-gyros plate were very satisfying. Total dining-room time: 27 minutes, but only because Chow, Baby went for thirds. Well worth a lunch visit if you work in the area.

But what if you work on the other side of town, say near I-30 and Green Oaks? You get to spend your lunch break at Asia Bowl & Grill, in the Albertson’s strip. Pan-Asian would be a better name; the dishes offered at this teeny joint (maybe eight tables) include Korean noodle soup, Mongolian stir-fry, Malaysian curries, Thai noodles, and Japanese teriyaki. The lunch combos ($4.95-$6.25, with egg roll and fried rice) look like standard Chinese fare — beef broccoli, kung pao shrimp, sweet & sour this & that — but they’re fresh and good, with none of the expected Chinese-fast-food gloppiness. Chow, Baby can’t rave enough about the pineapple chicken ($5.25 lunch combo, $7.95 full dose): stir-fried nonbattered chunks of chicken, bell pepper, carrot, onion, and pineapple in a not-too-sweet sauce that lets the tanginess of the pineapple sing.

From kim chee (spicy cabbage salad) to cheesecake, and including kids’ items and American dishes, Asia Bowl & Grill’s menu numbers more than 100 items. It’s a good thing the pan-Asian staff is so helpful. Chow, Baby’s companion had only to mention that he likes Korean food, and his meal was planned for him. Chow, Baby can only mention that if it had a day job in the area, it would eat here every day and never get bored.

Total dining-room time: 35 minutes, but only because Chow, Baby kept ordering to-go items for dinner. That’s Chow, Baby’s job, and it does have its benefits.

So ... Zangeluna?

Blame it on Chow, Baby, who months ago prophesied Zolon A. Wilkins III’s master plan: “to trendify all of North Texas.” Last Friday the staff at Angeluna was told that the heavenly spot had been sold to Sundance and would become part of the Planet Zolon empire, joining downtown bistros Zolon and Zoë. “That’s not accurate. I have no idea what they’re talking about,” Wilkins said Tuesday. “No deal has been done; no check has been signed.” So it’s just some weird coincidence that Wilkins met that morning with Angeluna managers to discuss their job futures and that, according to chief operating officer Darren Moll, Planet Zolon is already working on a “new concept” for the restaurant?

Saturday may be the last day to enjoy executive chef Clark McDaniel’s globe-ranging cuisine (reservations, 817-334-0080); the restaurant officially closes at 11 pm, but general manager Jamie Johnson says she’ll keep the bar open late until everybody has a chance to say goodbye. Chow, Baby prophesies lots of tears and drink specials.

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