To Christie's with Kristi!
For many years, I've been curious about this restaurant with the glowing anchor & steering wheel. My dining buddy, Kristi was game to go!
Lots in Common
At Christie's Last November
I'm a little slow with this write up. It was actually a weeknight last November when Kristi and I planned on meeting up at the iconic Houston restaurant. I arrived a little early and peeked at the blue bar, with mounted fish and I loved it. I was told that this room was where owner, Jim Christie was often found sitting and chatting with customers, until he died 2 years ago.
I enjoyed a few minutes, absorbing some of the decor! The oars, anchor and life preserver were pretty festive. The words on the orange circle reminded me that Christie's has been in the biz since opening in Galveston in 1917.
I was somewhat amused by this structure with the arched window. The kid in me immediately thought, "puppet theatre!" Then I had a moment of nostalgia and felt sure I knew just what it was.
I asked the woman who was smiling out from the window, "What is this? Is this a coat check?" She seemed confused and smiled back at me. Assuming she didn't speak English, I tried to sort of pantomime my question again. Then she suddenly laughed and spoke with only a slight accent. "Oh! No, they only have those in the Northeast. We don't have those in Texas!" We shared a chuckle and then I noticed the computer and desk behind her. Silly me.
Waterfall and Crabs
I sat for a moment and enjoyed the trickling fountain with little ledges holding potted plants and crab figures. And then Kristi arrived and we moved into the dining area for more fish and boat decor!
A White Table Cloth
And then we ordered our dinner, which I remember little about. No it was not amnesia or too much alcohol. I just waited too long to write this blog. Kristi got some kind of grilled fish and I got fried shrimp and maybe a baked potato. It was all good, but the food wasn't as memorable as the feel of the place or the conversation. There was much to catch up on.
A Lively Place
A table of business men jabbered and laughed nearby and a birthday group celebrated in the next room. But Kristi and I blocked out the noise and jabbered about travel and sports injuries. The main thing I wanted to find out was, "When are you and The Giant going to get married!"
This is Not The Giant
Kristi would rather have posed with "her Giant" Jim, than this swordfish, but it was the best we could do. Kristi's British beau, Jim (who happens to be very tall) was in England.
He was also in England back when Kristi was looking up trapeze terms, so she could email Jim with news of the stunts she was learning in trapeze class. Since Kristi and I started meeting for meals, I've learned from her just how tricky long distance courting (and wedding planning) can be!
Before heading out, we peeked at the guest book on a memorial table, honoring the late, Jim Christie. Too bad Kristi and I didn't get ourselves here 3 years ago. Mr. Christie obviously was well loved and we probably could have had a nice chat with him about the restaurant and the people he loved so much.
The Christie's Experience
So I kind of wimped out on this dining blog entry. I can't remember the food. And I hardly focused on the restaurant history, which is a great story that you can find on their website.
But my memory of the restaurant is mostly about a relaxing, nice evening catching up with my dining buddy. Maybe Kristi and I should return soon for another catch up... since I need to hear about her honeymoon! CONGRATS TO KRISTI AND JIM! They got married 2 days ago!
Can't Miss It!
Cute Little House Motel
What a fun looking motel sitting in the shade of the trees, with an almost fake-looking mountain range just beyond. It looked inviting enough with the porch and rocking chairs, but what really had me excited was that we had spotted this place in our old retro cookbook. Here was a chance for yet another dining/cookbook adventure!
A Late Lunch
We entered the cozy lobby and were pleased to know lunch was still being served. We spoke with a young man at the old desk who said his grandmother had managed the hotel & restaurant for years.
He pointed to the framed photos on the wall and told us his grandmother had some great stories about some of those movie stars. Kanab had evidently been nicknamed Little Hollywood long ago. Over 100 movies and TV episodes had been filmed in the area.
In 1924, local brothers got some temporary work when a Hollywood movie was shot for the first time in Southern Utah. The brothers helped with transporting some of the crew who came to film a "picture" starring Tom Mix. Within a few years, the area was swarming with Hollywood folks. The Parry Brothers built their motel in 1931 to accommodate the stars and crew members. At one time, the lodge itself became part of a movie set for the film, "The Girl in the Black Stockings".
Built Around an Old Farmhouse
The Parry brothers built their motel/lodge around what was then a farm house. They provided lodging, food and transportation for Western film stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, as well as more serious actors like Gregory Peck and Sidney Poitier. I imagine some of those big trees were there when the lodge was built. Too bad they lost their sprawling lawn in front, when the highway cut through. But that was the highway that helped us discover the place.
We were invited into the sunny dining room with flowery wallpaper, ruffled curtains and more Hollywood photos. I was sorry that the hostess was fairly new and didn't have much more input for us.
It's always fun to see what kind of reaction we get when we share one of these old Ford Cookbooks with a server or cook. Often the recipes are outdated and no longer used. Often the illustration gets a good laugh or gasp.
But I held the book back a while and studied the menu. No pot roast offerings, so I went for the salad bar.
I took my time piling my plate with greens and crispy bacon and chopped egg. I scooped up some chili that turned out to be pretty tasty. And I chatted with a nearby couple at the only other occupied table.
Don ordered the Special of the Day for $7. 95. Beef patty with onions, mashed potatoes & gravy...and of course some good old peas, corn and carrots.
It kind of looked like a meal they might have served in the 1940's or '50's.
Cary and the Cookbook
While finishing our meal, this fellow came out from the kitchen and asked playfully, "How was your food today... because I cooked it!" I ended up showing him the book and he was thrilled. He said he'd been experimenting with old lodge recipes, like one for dinner rolls and another for Chicken and Dumplings. He chuckled that customers had complained about too much salt in that one.
Darla and the Book
Someone got word to Darla, the manager that there was a vintage cookbook in the dining room. She came in and joined us and shared some old postcard images of the lodge.
She was eager to copy the Pot Roast recipe for their records and then she showed me around outside. She studied the book's illustration and we imagined how nice the porch sitting would have been with no highway and parking lot. She pointed to some rose bushes and told me they'd been there since the place opened.
A Peek at the Pool
Darla pointed towards the pool and said Frank Sinatra had some influence in getting that put in, when he and the Rat Pack stayed. Sinatra must have had his wife with him at least some of the time, since he made a special request to the Parry Brothers.
Darla said he talked the brothers into building a suite for his mother-in-law... at the opposite end of the complex!
Our dining adventure was more about the Hollywood history than the food. I hope next time we come, we can stay over, for a Notable Night experience. Then we'll have a little more time to enjoy dining and lingering in the Coffee Shop.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.