Chow, Baby: Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Belly Up to This Bar

Chow, Baby spent a recent evening in the game room at Jack London’s Olde San Francisco Saloon asking all who entered, “Say, did you get carded when you came in? No? WELL I DID!” Yep. Chow, Baby, who was last asked for proof of age in the 1980s, “could possibly pass for 23,” according to Big Daddy Don the bartender. Don is Chow, Baby’s new best friend.

Don also takes food orders and delivers meals hot to the pool tables, another prerequisite for being Chow, Baby’s friend. Jack London’s, at I-30 and Oakland, is not really a restaurant so much as a bar that serves better-than-you-might-expect bar food. (The kitchen is open Mon-Thu 6pm-10pm, Fri 6pm-1am, all day Sat, and Sun during football games.) Appetizers are of the “Battered and Fried X with Ranch Dressing” type, where the X stands for fresh juicy mushrooms ($4.75), crisp young pickle spears ($4.75), or cheese sticks ($4.95, also available with marinara sauce). None of it tastes like it was shaken out of a freezer bag. Sandwiches are fairly pedestrian, like the non-premium breast of turkey (it was stacked high, though), but Chow, Baby does enjoy ordering the “Lord Mayor of Dublin” ($6.75), which is fancy talk for a Reuben.

The big foodie surprise was Jack London’s excellent fried shrimp ($8.95), which came late to the table because the fresh shrimp were peeled to order, then butterflied, lightly battered, and faultlessly deep-fried. The accompanying fries, hand-cut slabs of potatoes, were equally fabulous. With Jack London’s decent grub, asshole-free crowd (that’s by order of the management), and Trash Disco on Wednesday nights, Chow, Baby may have to take up barstool-warming again.

Better Butter in Plain Paper

Chow, Baby is mighty impressed with the new Market Street grocery store in Colleyville. The niche that the Lubbock-based chain is aiming at is pretty clear (and includes Chow, Baby): people who do the fresh-stuff half of their shopping at Central Market or Whole Foods and the paper-stuff half at Wal-Mart, and are tired of it. The 72,000-square-foot store, in Town Center Colleyville at Hwy 26 and Hall-Johnson Rd, has it all: from Kobe beef (that’s the dry-aged stuff, $29.99/lb for ribeyes) to baby wipes, from a wine cellar with a full-time wine steward to a photo shop for developing the pictures of your drunken friends. The proof of Market Street’s motto, “Where Everyday Meets Gourmet,” is in the butter section. Market Street sells five brands: Plugra (the chef’s choice, very expensive), Organic Valley, Land O’Lakes, store brand HyTop, and another one that Chow, Baby forgot to write down. Normally you’d have to go to at least two stores to get both fancy and everyday butter, but here you don’t even have to travel to a special “gourmet” section.

Yes, for one-stop grocery shopping that’s almost as cheap as Wal-Mart but cleaner, almost as gourmet as Central Market but with fewer free samples, as toadying as Tom Thumb but without infuriating “shopper cards,” it’s gotta be ... SuperTarget, which is much closer to Chow, Baby’s house. But Market Street is pretty good, too.

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