Hi 73 / Lo 64
|Volume 68, Issue 45,
Monday, October 28, 2002
Arts & Entertainment
Hobbit Café brings tasty dishes to life
By Jonathan Bruder
I am strung lights and trusses, long vines on latticework and long smiles on faces. I am the tree grown through the boards of the patio, cell by cell. I am the clatter of cups and din of dish. I am the tale of talk. Houston, you know, where might I be?
I must be The Hobbit Café.
The Hobbit is the only restaurant in the Bayou City where one is likely to sip lemonade made with fresh strawberries under the watchful eyes of Bilbo and Frodo from J.R.R. Tolkienis epic tales of Middle Earth.
At 2243 Richmond Avenue, The Hobbit Café canit be seen from the street, and thatis part of the charm. Peeking out from behind Thai Spice Vegetarian, the cozy dining den is nicely isolated, providing the perfect place for romantic interludes. It has the distinct feeling of a woodland home, something more likely in the Black Forest — or The Shire — than the Third Coast.
The Hobbit Café has 16 tasty wines and 23 beers ranging from Bud Light to Youngis Double Chocolate Stout. A variety of smoothies named after Tolkien characters are made with blended fresh fruit, honey and ice. The watermelon juice is refreshing on steamy evenings. I ordered strawberry lemonade on this visit. In a few minutes, our server brought a frothy jar of berries, freshly blended with honey lemonade and served over crushed ice.
The sandwiches come in two sizes — "Slim" and "Classic" — but donit let the misnomer "Slim" fool you. I had never guessed an egg salad sandwich could put a Jack In The Box "Ultimate Cheeseburger" to shame until I saw the "Strider" ($5.99, $7.99) in the smaller size. Iive not even seen the larger of the two sizes, and I donit want to. Itis just too much egg for one man.
"Smaugis Delight," a sliced turkey sandwich with avocado and tomato under melted cheese, struck a fire under my belly. I suppose it should. Smaug is a dragon. Beyond the fantasy fare, the Hobbit also serves a bison burger, which tempts with less calories and fat than traditional beef. But be careful what you choose. The word on the street says the jerk chicken is superb.
Eight meatless sandwiches and two vegetarian burgers also grace the menu, ranging in price from $5.69 to $8.19. They come with chips. Seasoned fries can be substituted for $1.29, or onion rings for $1.79, but you probably wonit need them. The plates are enormous; these substitution options seem to pay homage to traditions. After all, a burger and fries are the essential American meal. At The Hobbit Café, you donit have to sacrifice your health to enjoy the tradition.
Despite a slow start, service was quick and friendly — the staff seemed smarter than the average corps of tray-luggers.
No one objected when I played Yann Tiersenis score to Amelie on the patio. Its bright accordians were the perfect complement to a perfectly fantastic meal. Try it.
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