Chow, Baby: Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Ye Olde Economie Shoppe

Chow, Baby is getting bored with “but-the-current-economy” as an all-purpose excuse to sit on your butt and not take any dream-chasing chances. Sure, unless you have a star name like “Grady Spears” and/or can make killer green onion mashers that are much tastier than a normal person has so far been able to duplicate at home, you can’t just ta-da open a restaurant and expect customers to magically show up and hand over their debit cards. That’s why Jason and Miriam Harper — he a recent chef/manager at Central Market Cooking School, she a former pastry chef at Abacus in Dallas — bought a going concern, Simply You Café and Bakery (and Catering; 8300 Precinct Line Rd., Colleyville), which came with a cozy-charming mini-chandelier’d décor and an already-loyal customer base. New problem: This customer base was loyal to the old menu, which consisted primarily of reheated items that fell off a food-service truck. But the Harpers, though achingly young, are real live chefs. How to make the transition?
Chow, Baby would have just changed the stupid name (Simply You? What is that, a day spa for the terminally insecure, if that’s not redundant?) and told the old customers they were idiots. But Jason is, for now, keeping some of the old most-requesteds on the menu (such as chicken puffs with green beans and side salad, $7.25) while he sneaks in his own stunners. Chow, Baby’s current fave is a quartet of gulf shrimp ($7.25) dusted with crumbled tortilla chips and pepperjack cheese for a spicy crunch, served atop housemade tomato-avocado-corn pico and cilantro rice. The small menu of salads, sandwiches, and light entrees is still geared to ladies who lunch (and the place is lunch-only), but now the chicken salad (on honey wheat bread with side salad, $6.95) is housemade, and the spinach apple salad ($7.95) has real bacon bits and fresh, creamy balsamic vinaigrette. Meanwhile, Miriam keeps the pastry case stocked with cupcakes-of-the-day, cookies, and tingly key lime pie ($3.50/slice). Slowly but surely, the sheet-cake lovers will come around.
Another approach to obtaining customers is to trap them when they’re exhausted and disoriented, like from shopping. Worn out after its hunt for pink melamine dessert plates ($1.25 each) at the Handley Antique Mall (3129 Handley Dr.), Chow, Baby meandered to the back of the mall to find the Sandwich Shoppe at Handley Station, opened just a couple of weeks ago by Brad Haskovec, who also runs the Kolache Shoppe (6724 Brentwood Stair Rd.). As much as Chow, Baby loves kolaches and shoppes, it wasn’t expecting a whole heck of a lot from this corner-of-a-mall refueling stop.
Well. Let’s start, as Chow, Baby did, with the house wild rice soup (cup $3) so blow-me-away fantastic, what with its cream and its housemade chicken stock and its cute baby-carrot slices, that Chow, Baby immediately ordered a second cup to go as a gift for the beloved. Unfortunately the soup somehow mysteriously disappeared en route, but Chow, Baby did manage to save a few “you have to try this” bites of its apple-bacon-cheese sandwich ($5.50) and one of the daily specials, marvelously juicy broiled chicken stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes ($7.95). Desserts change daily, so keep visiting until you run into the smell-a-rific butterscotch bread pudding ($3.50). And then keep coming back, because in this but-the-current-economy, our local restaurateurs/dream-chasers need all the loyal customers they can snag.
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