Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A little outing and 2 restaurant reviews

Last week, we made plans to take a small vacation. Finally. 
M gets 3 weeks vacation, like most slaves ;). This, if not claimed, is washed down the drain ( which has happened) without any compensation. Smart people ( and those like us, who learn things the hard way), therefore, take leave, when opportunity arises.
Since he is about to start a new project, come September, last 2 weeks of August seemed like a good time. 

We plan things quickly, make bookings quickly, pack minimally and set out. Our destination this time was Houston. It was a matter of minutes before we booked our hotel ( we prefer Marriott Group, simply because they have a kitchenette), booked the car  and we traveled during the week. 
For the first time in 4 years, I traveled without my kitchen! Let me explain, traveling with little S meant cooking food,  I was not too happy about restaurant cooked food for him and preferred making a simple khichadi for him, this ensures no unpleasant shocks with sickness. It did mean carrying my rice cooker and a pre-made khichadi mix from home. 
Now that Little S is 4 and enjoys eating out, we decided to drop the extra baggage of carrying 'the kitchen'! 
But wait, it is still not that easy! When I say eating out, it does become difficult with an antsy 4 year old, fresh from a long-long drive and I do not like spending my time trying to get him to eat or behave, my solution ? Take everything to-go. Sitting in my hotel room and eating peacefully! Ah! Luxury :)

The first night out, we ate at Cuisine India ( read: to- go dinner) 

Tired after a long drive we just wanted to fill our belly and so we did not  do the appetizer, entree, dessert courses. We  ordered only what we needed and therefore, I am giving our opinion only based on what we ate. 
M ordered chicken in Ceylon Curry, a curry redolent with green chilies and heat!  he enjoyed the taste and the serving size was generous. The curry came with Basmati rice and a small salad on the side.
I ordered Paneer Makahani and Naan, keeping it simple as paneer is a good source of protein for little S and for me as well.

The naan was soft  and light, the paneer was soft and fresh, the gravy was mild and creamy,  S enjoyed the combination! I liked the over all taste, however the gravy was on the sweetish side and a strong cardamom scented one. Not offensive, but a bit overwhelming for my taste. But I liked that they were generous with the quantity of paneer pieces and gravy.

The entire meal cost us ~$25, reasonably priced and generous quantities!
For those dining in, the restaurant menu has a good selection  has a pleasant ambiance, and the wait staff is knowledgeable and quick.
1212 Nasa Parkway

Nassau Bay, Texas 77058
Overall Rating:  4/5

Our outings are child-centric ( no surprises there) and at a pace and time he can handle. 

Day 1: We spent an enjoyable day at the NASA Space Center, marveling at everything, firing the little one's imagination!

We headed back to the hotel in the evening, tired and hungry. That night we got dinner to-go from Mogul.
Here is what we ordered.

M tried the Reshmi Kebab. And for all of us, I ordered, Navratan Subzi, Veg. Biryani, Naan and Zaiq-e-shahi (dessert)
Again, generous helpings. Food taste and quality, very disappointing.

M declared the kebabs were, strange. 
The naan was good, the navratan subzi was a disaster. The vegetables used were probably frozen vegetables, at least the beans were, they were limp, rubbery and inedible. The vegetables were not well spiced, I do not mean hot/ spicy, I like mildly spiced, but there has to be some flavor. 
The biryani was another disappointment, it tasted like biryani rice had been added to  the navratan subzi and a few cashews, fried and sprinkled on top.
The dessert was Gulab jamun in basundi, not too bad, but cloyingly sweet.
The entire meal cost us around $28-30
The restaurant has large capacity with a banquet hall. Reasonably priced, but the taste was just not up to the mark.
My Rating: 2/5
1055, Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058
Tel:  281-40 3097

Day 2 we visited Moody Gardens and loved every minute of it.
Everything worked out well for us!  Maybe because it was a week  day. It wasn't too crowded, there was no waiting in lines etc. and the weather was amazing!
There is plenty for little kids and adults to enjoy. There is a fun ride ( height restriction for kids), 3D ( we opted for the Coral Reef 3d movie, there are choices ex: there is one about Sharks, Polar Bears etc)  and 4D movies ( Dora and Diego Adventure, up to 12:00 noon and The wizard of Oz thereafter) 

There are 3 pyramids with exhibits, there is the Rain forest Pyramid, which is so, so beautiful! It abounds with flora and fauna found it rain forests and is fascinating, even to children.

The second pyramid has a Science Exhibit, they have the 'Bodies Revealed' exhibit ( camera usage not allowed) at this time. Though fascinating for older children and adults, young ones are likely to be bored and sensitive children may get scared. 

The third pyramid is the Aquarium and has a large variety of fish and turtles and penguins etc. 

There is a water park and a small beach, which brought back beautiful memories of our time spent in Los Angeles and made us long to go back! 
There is a lot to do on Galveston Island for those who wish to explore more. We restricted ourselves to just Moody Gardens.

Day 3 was spent at the Children's Museum , a wonderful world made just for children, but one that is fun for adults who want to refresh or even discover some facts! Little S had a great time and had to be dragged back to the hotel, he played a lot in the water zone. I did not do my homework and did not carry extra clothing for him, my bad! 
We spent about 4-4 1/2 hours playing and then ventured out in the water zone, so his fun was not cut short, but yes, we left some part unexplored :(

 We came back home on Sunday, happy and tired. I want to 'fess up here. I had a lot of fun in these 4 days but like Little S, I wanted to fret and complain, " I want to go hoooooooooome", just because I wanted home cooked food! I kept thinking of piping hot rice with Daal and pickles. regular chapati/ fulka with a simple stir-fry of vegetables, yogurt-rice.......... oh! 
The first thing I did on returning ( apart from the cleaning up and all those rotten, boring chores) was to make  a simple Gujarati Daal ( recipe coming up) with Rice and scarf it down! 
Does that happen to you as well? Do you long for home cooked meals when on vacation? What do you crave?
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  1. Loved reading about your trip. Most of my friends who have kids or are travelling with parents prefer a kichenette or like to pick up food and eat in peace in the hotel room. We dont have any children yet so really enjoy eating out. Infact I insist that the hotel room does not have a kitchenette, I seriously need a break from anything related to cooking so when I return from the trip I am fully re-charged! Don't get me wrong, I love to cook and appreciate our home cooked meals but when I am eating out I love to draw inspiration from others creations and this mainly refreshes me and helps me to create better things in my own kitchen. We check reviews of the local mom 'n' pop joints or restaurants opened by chef's who cook there themselves and have never been disappointed. We dined at one such restaurant and watched my entree and sides being cooked from scratch over the live LCD by the chef. I could see him at a distance cooking but the screen captured the details..the ingredients..the technique...I could 'taste' the freshness and every single ingredient and spice stood by itelf yet mingled with others in harmony. It was a masterpiece. If you stay away from restaurants that cook everything in advance and just heat and serve you when you order you will love eating out even though you are a vegetarian. Promise! :)

    - P

    1. P, I love eating out too and before my son was born,the hubby and I went out a lot! I guess, to enjoy that kind of thing, we will have to wait a few years more, till the son is old enough and adventurous enough.
      I would so love to see my food cooked live! I am very interested in looking at the techniques the chefs use, every action is so practiced and smooth!
      Where was the restaurant you have mentioned? I am sure, like me, all my dear readers would love to hear of it.

    2. I didnt mention the restaurant because the reviews havent been great for this place since last year but we have visited twice before that on special occassions and were highly impressed both times...the food was pure magic! The place is called 'Medusa' and it is at Lake Geneva, WI...it is owned and run by Chef Greg. This is the place with the live screening. He made a spicy side dish with cabbage once and god only knows what spices he added but the cabbage was to die for! It was nothing like what I had ever tasted before but at the same time gave me so much comfort as only lovingly cooked home cooked food can. Here we would only tell him what we cannot eat and what we like and ask him to make whatever he wishes (weird, I know...but he's a magician..atleast was when we visited) and both times he exceeded our expectations. Another chef owned great restaurant was Harbour Haus at MI. This chef grows his own organic edible flowers (Yeah! you read it right!) and served us different kinds of hummus with petals of different flowers and it was unbelievable! These petals had crunch (because they were freshly plucked), some were sweet, some savory, some had a sharp taste. We didnt touch the crackers which were provided 'just in case'. :D

      - P

  2. Loved the pics of the butterfly, the flowers and the other travel pix.

  3. So well written, loved the detailing. Thanks for the reviews definietly helps to decide if we plan to go there


  4. Nice write up..and loved the photos..

  5. I am not sure if you like the idea or Not, but you should do such posts more often, the knack of writing travel posts is so natural for you. The pics and all the thought that you put in planning of this post is clear by the way you took pictures. I am in to read such posts at C@H.
    Love Ash.

    1. Thanks Ash! I did enjoy writing this post and happier that you liked reading it too!
      As and when I have any thing worth sharing, I will blog about it.
      Thanks for the encouragement :)

  6. Who doesn't want a simple meal at home after a wonderful trip. Well written post , very nice pictures...

  7. Looks like you had fun.Loved the butterfly pics.Very pretty.Nice narration :)
    When ever we went out on a trip when we lived in China, we craved for home cooked food- a simple rice -dal or a simple yogurt rice.All we got to eat out was the only veg option @ KFC-veg burger, french fries and coffee!

  8. Great pictures and I loved reading your experiences. I am so glad you had a wonderful holiday.
    I HATE cooking when we are on vacation. Although I prefer hotels with microwave, it is just to heat milk. And yes, after every vacation, we crave for some dal and rice. That is the first thing I make after returning home.

  9. Nice to know that u had wonderful time.....that's an helpful review for the ones searching for...

  10. My kids had a great time at Moody Gardens. There's so much to do between the Aquarium, the Rainforest, Discovery Pyramid, and the 3D and 4D movies. We bought a family pass so we can go many more times this summer. It will be especially nice once the beach is open there.


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