Chow, Baby: Wednesday, April 17, 2003
Cheatiní Arteries

As devoted as Chow, Baby is to Fredís, sometimes ó well, you know how it is, sometimes you just crave the taste of strange meat. And thatís just what Chow, Baby found on its first visit to the newest Tommyís at 5228 Camp Bowie Blvd. This thing was called a chicken-fried steak ($6.99), but it wasnít like any Chow, Baby had ever seen. This is not to say it was bad, exactly. The palm-sized piece of meat was tender, and the breading was ó actually, it pretty much wasnít, as naked patches of cube steak were visible through the tablespoon of thin gravy. Another scant measure of gravy decorated the mashed potatoes, which, as Chow, Babyís huge first bite revealed, were made from flakes. Chow, Baby took this as a personal affront. How dare a restaurant in this town serve reconstituted dehydrated potatoes next to chicken-fried! Also the green beans were cold.

This all was quite uncharacteristic of olí reliable Tommyís. On the theory that anybody can have an off night, Chow, Baby went back a few days later and ordered the same meal ($5.99 on Mondays). Except it wasnít the same at all. This time the chicken-fried was so big it hung off the edge of the plate; it was perfectly breaded, perfectly cooked, and perfectly gravied. The potato flakes were much improved by a ladle of that thick, creamy gravy. And the green beans were hot. The moral of the story: If youíre going to stray, keep at it until youíre satisfied.

Motion in the Ocean

Chow, Babyís latest recipe for happiness: Lower your expectations. This works for mayoral candidates, internet dating, and new restaurants near TCU. Parking amid the fancy foreign cars at Ocean Rock on Bluebonnet Circle, Chow, Baby and chum steeled themselves for an evening of cutesy-named bar food in a too-smoky room with too-loud music. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ocean Rock is pleasantly decorated in airy Upscale Island (metal tables, comfy couches, bright ceramic tile). The diners looked like college professors. The servers were attentive but not hovery. The Caribbean/Gulf Coast seafood menu, though typo-ridden, was droll (Chicken Eatza, Shrimp Ay Caramba). And Chow, Babyís chum, who cares an awful lot about these things, reported that the ladiesí bathroom was very clean.

Ocean Stuffed Rocks, if pricey for an appetizer ($8.97), were a taste sensation: half a dozen baked oysters topped with deviled crab and mild cheeses. Chow, Babyís grilled mahi-mahi ($12.95), served with roasted corn and pineapple/cinnamon rice, was moist and flaky. Less successful was chumís Coastal Combo ($13.95), a platter of oysters, catfish, crawfish tails, shrimp, and Pacific rockfish that all tasted exactly the same: deep-fried gobs of batter surrounding nuggets of indistinguishable ocean treat. Homemade onion rings, whose light, crispy coating was more jacket than parka, were much better. Tres leches cake and puckery Key lime pie ($3.75 each) were just right. This restaurant is a keeper.

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