Friday, January 31, 2014

Back in the game

I recently decided to begin food blogging again. I had put things on hold for various reasons, but I've held onto the desire to pick up the pen one day. Throughout my four-year blogging hiatus, I have maintained taking photographs of my eating adventures and posting them to my Instagram account (@ichewandreview) where I attempt to "share slices of my life peppered between slices of pizza and pie."

But this all hasn't really gone as planned. In a good way.

I was fortunate enough to attend a preview of the new Black Walnut Cafe in Conroe. I wrote up a quick review and posted it to a private Facebook "foodie" group where it was read by the fella who runs www.htownchowdown.com. Now a little on Albert. I have followed him on twitter (which I rarely check) since I first started blogging back in 2007.  If you like restaurant reviews, you should bookmark his site. It was named best food blog by the Houston Press last year. I've admired his work for a long time, so I was excited and honored when he contacted me because he wanted to publish my Black Walnut review! Of course! 

That was a couple of weeks ago, and I thought that was the end of the story. It wasn't. I woke up this morning only to discover the Houston Press took note of my review! I had been trying to decide what my first blog entry should be after my long hiatus, and this morning, I decided it would be most appropriate to re-publish what has really jump-started all this. 

So here it is. My Black Walnut Conroe review as originally published on htownchowdown.com.

  • I was so excited to attend a preview service for the new Black Walnut location at the Lone Star Executive Airport in the new GalaxyFBO hangar. I know what most of y'all are thinking. You're full of preconceived notions about the Conroe Airport (and Conroe in general). I've heard things like, "That Black Walnut won't be as good," "The menu is going to be very limited…all they will have is sandwiches and they'll just focus on catering." Well, I'd like to proudly tell you that you all are wrong. Sure, you have to drive by the old dump that closed in 1996 to get to this little gem, but just pretend those big piles of grass covered trash are rolling hills. The location is on the 3rd floor of the new hangar. I was really impressed when I first walked in. There are a ton of windows, so there's a lot of natural lighting, but it still has that "Black Walnut" feel with the belt-driven fans and dark wood accents. It's much more roomy and open than The Woodlands location, and I really like that. They retained the traditional Black Walnut counter-service style, but thankfully, the layout is so much better. Oh, and the outdoor seating. I was so excited to see that. Once again, not many places in Conroe where you can sit outside and enjoy a meal (I don't go west to the lake very often).  Anyway…  For this preview, we were each given menus, each of which had different choices. I decided on the Cordon Bleu Benedict, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice. We got our drinks and chose a table by one of the window. I loved the view. Aside from the lake, this place has the best view in Conroe. It faces one of the runways, so as you eat, you can watch planes take off and land. Pretty fun. And I don't care for planes. I can't tell a Cessna from spaceship. 

    My benedict was excellent. The egg was cooked perfectly and had a rich yellow yolk. The hollandaise had a hint of cayenne which I liked. The chicken was flavorful, a little greasy, but still very good. The asparagus was cooked nicely. Nothing needed salt (it seems everywhere I've gone lately the food has needed salt), and I enjoyed every bite. I had a bite of the hubs pancake, and it was good, too. It was thin and kind of eggy, so if you like the thick fluffy pancakes, you'll be disappointed. This one was perfect for me, and they serve it with real maple syrup. 

    I spoke with someone whom I assume was the manager and he told me they will have a full menu at the Conroe location (take that, doubters). They removed a couple of menu items and will use mahi mahi instead of tuna and will also use mahi in the fish tacos instead of tilapia. And to satisfy the country palate, they added fried chicken and chicken fried steak. Personally, I can't wait to try it and see how it stacks up to other places. Dollars to donuts the gravy will be homemade. Right now, Black Walnut will be  open from 7am (or was it 7:30)-3pm starting on January 22 with intentions of opening in the evenings a little later. They will also be adding beer and wine, so I'm looking forward to sitting on the patio, enjoying a nice glass of wine, and watching planes take off. 

    Overall, the quality of the Conroe location was above what I have come to expect when I visit Black Walnut. I hope they maintain this standard. I can see myself dividing my time between here and Red Brick. I'm so glad Conroe has another locally-owned place to have a nice meal. Should you drive from The Bubble to go there? Probably not since there's a BW IN the bubble, but it would be worth driving down to check it out at least once. If you live in Conroe or the immediate area, it should be added to your list of go-to places. You won't be disappointed.   
Information on Black Walnut Conroe:
Address: 2971 Hawthorne Dr, Conroe, TX 77303

Hours: 7 days a week, 7am-3pm

If you made it to the end of this, I'm really impressed with your attention span. I promise you all not all my reviews will be this lengthy.