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Thursday, November 5, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 53

Morissette Review

About the Cougar

Cheap Eat$ disaster narrowly averted with timely trip to Avalon

Cheap Eat$

Lisa Chmiola

This week, we almost had a Cheap Eat$ disaster.

We were on our way to hunt out a restaurant for the column when Katrina mentioned she really needed to eat something soon, else she was going to faint.

I stepped on the gas so fast, I almost ran a red light. I wish I had some flashing lights and a siren to affix to my vehicle in times of need like that.

Therefore, we went to the first place we could think of that was cheap enough: the Avalon Diner.

The Avalon Diner offers great diner fare at Cheap Eat$ prices.

J. Parsons/The Daily Cougar

Besides, burgers and the like always sound good to me.

Upon arriving, Jorg mentioned he was quite famished as well.

"You know you're really hungry when you go to a diner and everything (on the menu) looks good," he said.

On the menu were the diner usuals -- burgers, sandwiches and fried dishes -- and some not-so-usual plates.

"Hey, they have Vienna sausages. It's like diner Beanie Weenie," Jorg said.

He ended up getting the Chicken Fried Chicken Breast ($5.75), which came with fries or mashed potatoes (potatoes picked here), salad and Texas toast.

"The chicken was juicy and well-spiced," Jorg said.

The plate also came with a rather large cup of white gravy on the side for the diner to administer to the food, so much that "you could swim in it," according to Jorg.

He then related a story to us about a person he knew from Montreal that tried chicken fried steak once and complained about the lard on top of it.

"I can't imagine anybody who doesn't like cream gravy -- that's un-American," Jorg said.

"Let me say that the gravy was a perfect complement to the chicken," he added.

Katrina ordered one of the day's specials, Chicken and Dumplings ($5.95). Along with some dinner rolls, she picked sides of mashed potatoes, collared greens and okra to accompany it.

"My blood sugar is going up," Katrina mentioned after a few bites. She looked much relieved now that she wasn't going to faint.

I had a hard time deciding what to order on this particular day. I knew the burgers were tasty, having eaten there before, but I thought maybe I should try something different.

I ended up getting a burger.

But it wasn't just a burger. It was a Mushroom Cheesburger ($3.95), a beefy treat topped with cheese (of course) lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard and mayonnaise on a lightly toasted bun.

I'm pleased with a burger when the meat isn't pink and the veggies are crisp, so this burger met my qualifications. It wasn't nearly as big or juicy as the one I had at Lankford Grocery, but not every burger can taste like theirs.

Although I felt full enough not to need to eat again for a while, I urged my Cheap Eat$ buddies to order some shakes for dessert.

"I wouldn't think of dining here without having a shake," Jorg said.

So we ordered a round of chocolate ones ($2.95 each, any flavor) from our waitress, Velma.

Thick and milky, I thought I died and went to shake heaven. There's nothing like a good rush of cocoa to your brain to complete your day (well, OK, your meal).

Also on the menu is a variety of menu items, available all day. Included are eggs and omlettes, french toast, waffles and pancakes. A children's menu for breakfast and lunch is also provided.

Total cost: $8.84 per person, but don't forget that we had dessert. Without it, the average would be less than $6. Either way, it's a good way to fill your tummy.

Besides, you can enjoy viewing plenty of photos from Houston's earlier days, prominently displayed near the booths. My favorite is the one of the old Alabama Theater (which is now a Bookstop).

So belly up to the counter or grab a booth for some good cookin'. And just smile politely when the wait staff refers to you as "baby."

Avalon Diner

2417 Westheimer
(713) 527-8900
6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to Sunday
Rating: $$$

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