An Old Favorite
Our family has fond memories of dining at Rainbow Lodge, years ago. So the day after Thanksgiving we returned.
We arrived before dusk and found the entrance already decorated for Christmas.
We remembered the festive decorations from 15 years ago, when my mom came for Christmas. But as you can see, the entrance was different then... with stairs.
Before it got dark we took a peek at the deck and the landscaped acre of land below.
I remember in 2001, thinking it was odd to have such a woodsy setting in the middle of the city.
The country setting with white lights, looked as lovely as I remembered. Only this isn't what I remembered at all! Evidently the restaurant moved to a new loaction 10 years ago!
Cabin in the Woods
Rainbow Lodge left the Buffalo Bayou setting in 2006 and moved to another wooded area, this time beside the White Oak Bayou. The restaurant was built around a log cabin that had been sitting on the land for about 100 years.
Once inside we could see how the newer parts of the building blended with the old log cabin. There were 3 beautiful stone fireplaces and the original log walls.
This room with the 18- foot celing was once a living room. A stone fireplace covered one wall and the stairway, using Cypress knees was at the other end.
This is the cozy space we passed through to get to the bar. I'm not sure if the leaded glass windows were original, but it gave a dramatic peek into the cabin dining room.
The Tied Fly Bar
This 20-foot hand carved bar was moved from the old location. 15 years ago, the kids were young and we didn't spend any time checking out the glass covered piece of art, carved from a single tree.
This time we stopped for a little live music and some martinis before our reservations.
The parents posed with glasses. We are too old for selfies, but not too old to ham it up.
Scott and Heidi
Heidi and Scott are young enough to handle the close ups! We had a few toasts and laughed as we recalled our last time together at Rainbow Lodge.
Our Past Feast
One of the few things we remember about our dining adventure 15 years ago, was how excited Scott was to try the Special of the Day. We were new to Texas and he was eager to take on the dish that included buffalo.
That was also back when Don and I were new to the idea of our kids wanting anything besides chicken or burgers. When the bill came, we were stunned to see our 6th grader had just ordered a 60-dollar meal.
Room of Windows
The original cabin rooms were reserved for special parties, but the other dining spaces had great views of the trees and lights. I don't have a photo of our exact table from this visit, but we do have a few food photos.
The Day of Food Pics
15 years ago, people didn't snap so many food photos. I love discrete cell phones.
Heidi and Scott have grown to enjoy a wide range of foods, so they were excited about the wild game choices...and they did check prices! Heidi and Don went for the rainbow trout with lump crab and pecan brown butter. Scott had the Wild Game Mixed Grill with elk loin, venison medallions, wild boar chop and Lockhart quail. And I went for beef tenderloin with fried oysters.
Our wonderful waiter, Jim, should have been exhausted after a huge serving day on Thanksgiving, the day before. But he was in talkative spirits and seemed quite excited that we wanted to order a burger, as an extra plate. We wanted to experience a sandwich using elk, venison & bison! We invited him to join us, but he declined. All was wonderful and we left stuffed.
We paused for a photo on the way out. A lot has changed since our last visit... besides the setting of the restaurant. So wish my mom could have been with us, like the first time!
Why World Bank?
This was taken last summer, when I had some fun posing with my future daughter-in-law, in front of The World Bank. Her dad was working that day and invited us to meet him for lunch. That's an opportunity you don't pass up!
Driving in D.C.
In the morning, after we did a little museum wandering, we found the perfect parking spot near The World Bank. It takes up an entire city block, so we still did a little walking to find the right entrance.
We waited outside for our host to greet us at the proper door. Then we checked in, getting special badges. It was quite a thrill, since tourists can't exactly decide to eat lunch at World Bank. And Don and I were defintely tourists in D.C.
We were checked through security, as we walked by a colorful wall of flags. Each flag represented a country involved in World Bank, since it's beginning in 1944.
First we walked through the beautiful glassed in atrium with a vaulted skylight ceiling. This sleek, modern building has evidently evolved over the years, by using materials from past World Bank buildings.
World Bank's Goal
The goal of the international financial institution is to reduce poverty, by providing loans to developing countries. This exhibit gave us something to ponder.
Just getting to the cafeteria was an adventure. We walked over a bridge, where some were dining above a blue pool.
It was a Friday in July, so the atmosphere was quieter and more casual than usual. There was an option for a more formal dining room, but we'd heard great things about the cafeteria.
So Many Options
Once we got our trays and utensils, our group of 5 scattered, in search of our favorite foods. There are thousands of employees of World Bank and most aren't U.S. born. So it made good sense that there would be food stations representing foods from all over the world.
Dining on Trays
I chose a station named, "Green Apron" where I picked out a salmon patty with zucchini and squash, along with some African Spice Eggplant. We carried our trays to a huge dining area, broken up into cozy spaces. Everyone seemed to have the routine down. Eat on your tray and then bus your own table afterwards.
Doors of the World
I managed to find one empty area to snap a photo. There were many beautifully decorated areas, using bright backgrounds to display carved doors and shutters from around the world. I wanted to be invisible and wander through the space, listening to all the different languages.
Time to Go
After we took our trays to be emptied, we crossed over the bridge again. I noted the clocks and realized we'd finished our lunch just before 2, but it was about happy hour in London! I wish we'd had more time to explore because there was so much besides food. There was a classy gift shop, that sold wine. There was even a cleaners, which is obviously more handy for employees, than guests. I heard there was a daycare somewhere in the building.
Don and I had to do a pose with our special badges. You could tell we were first timers, because we weren't any too eager to take them off. What a fun experience with delicious food and wonderful company!
Lunch in a Factory
Don and I have eaten meals in train cars and boats, old churches and schools. But we've never eaten in an old factory.
This is how the old shirt factory once looked.
We know, because we stopped by the museum, also inside the building.
We were traveling through Missouri last fall, when we needed to stop for lunch. Factory Diner popped up on an internet search, so we pulled up to the big brick building.
A Stage Set?
The set up was a little odd. We entered the tiny "patio" and walked through the back door. A few diner tables were lined up against the partition-type walls. I felt like I was on a movie set.
Lunch is Served
Our waitress came in from the main room and yawned as she handed us our menus. "I got up at 5:00." She needed us to know. She seemed a little concerned when I ordered a garden salad. "That's our lamest salad." She warned. I told her I was fine with the lamest.
Maybe she was concerned I wouldn't get enough food, because the garden salad looked extra generous. Don's hamburger and fries were surprisingly good. Too bad the atmosphere was a little negative, because the food was decent.
After lunch we wandered through the mall-like setting of the old shirt factory. There were a few mostly closed shops and a free museum. It was actually interesting peeking at the old photos and news clips that gave us a glimpse of the once lively building.
Royal Navy Dockyards
Last March, Don and I stayed in historic St. George's, Bermuda. We spent one day taking buses and a ferry to get to the historic Dockyards. From the ferry, we had a good view of the old clock towers and the lovely blue water.
Frog and Onion Pub
We entered the "Victualling Yard" which was once the heart of the naval operations. The large stone buildings once stored, prepared and packaged food and drink for naval fleets.
We spotted a sign for The Frog and Onion Pub, which was inside the Cooperage, where barrels were once made.
Beer and Cricket
I thought eating in an old Cooperage would be a dining adventure, but the place was empty on a Wednesday in March. We sat at the bar, which offered many traditional English beers and we wondered where everyone was.
The bartender and male servers were there, they were just quiet. They were glued to the TV screens, watching a match between India and Bangladesh. Occasionally they came to life with cheers, but we felt a little like we'd invaded an intense gathering.
The Cooperage Room
I wandered into the Cooperage Room with its giant fireplace, once used for working the iron hoops, which bound the barrels. The barrels were made to hold perishables, which were then salted and sealed inside. I loved the history of this building from 1831. I loved the stone walls and the flags...
... And Bottles
There was a lot to look at from bottles to drippy candles. I'm sure the pub is warm and welcoming at night, but it was lunchtime and we needed a day-dining-adventure. It was just too quiet and the servers were too distracted by TV.
The Dockyards Bistro and Pastry Shop
Just steps away, we found another option, this one with a walled in patio.
Hot Cross Bun With Codfish
It was 2 days before Good Friday, so I was able to order a food traditionally eaten on that day. The tall, rounded bun had to be squished a bit to get a mouth around it! The sandwich was yummy which was a relief, since codfish initially sounded scary.
I had my back to the wall, when I was startled by this sweet visitor. Don spotted the two horses and riders, before I heard a snort over my shoulder.
What a fun surprise to add to the dining memory!
The Frog Pub had offered no people encounters, so this was a nice change. We chatted with the women on horseback, who asked about the food. One laughed and said the horses wanted burgers.
After I finished my Hot Cross Fish Sandwich, I headed inside to the restroom. When I came out, Don had met a young couple with a baby. The man was from Spain and they were spending 3 years in Bermuda, since he was with the Oracle Team USA. Sailors and Horse Women! I was feeling inspired!
Horses and Boats
We love learning from the people we meet on our dining adventures.
I was suddenly ready to buy a horse or a sailboat! But spotting a boat named Elizabeth on the way to the ferry, was about as close as we got to either whim.We'll save the horses and sailing for next time.
Dim Sum on Sunday
I've been to China and I've been to many Chinatowns, but I know little about Dim Sum. My daughter picked this food feast for part of her Birthday Mother/Daughter Day!
What to Wear
The festive head gear was Heidi's idea. I was having a hard time trying to figure out what to wear that day and Heidi suggested head scarves.
You know you're going to have a good food outing when your daughter is up for head costumes!
It was a beautiful October day and we were able to walk from her apartment to the restaurant on the corner of the IBC Bank building.
There was a crowd dining on the patio and I could see full tables through the floor to ceiling windows.
We both were starving and glad we had reservations.
The sleek modern decor was a nice change. I'm used to waving kitty statues and fish aquariums and Chinese lanterns, so this was a treat. The host was friendly and ushered us past the jade colored community tables, towards the curtained wall in back.
Cool Austin Meets Traditional China
Heidi and I have been sharing Chinese food since she was small. She once burnt her tiny fingers on scalding crab rangoon. As a tot, she begged for her favorite, shrimp toast. At some point she carried her own traveling chopsticks in her purse.
Today Heidi still loves Chinese food, but she's got a sophisticated palate. I was ready for her to introduce me to one of Austin's most highly rated restaurants... where the Chinese chef uses local farm-fresh ingredients to prepare authentic Chinese dishes.
The crowd at Wu Chang looked very different from the diners in my Houston area. Houston's "Asia Town" caters to a mostly Asian crowd. Our go-to Panda Garden near Sugar Land gets an after church group, where you still see some suits and Sunday hats. This was a young Austin crowd, sporting fedoras and tattoos, drinking mimosas, instead of green tea.
But I was delighted with the change, because I knew I was going to have my first Shanghai Soup Dumpling Experience.
I kept the receipt to help me remember all our orders and of course I can't find it and I can't remember. But Heidi did most of the ordering and all we tasted was delicious. Most of these items are only available on Sundays, when Dim Sum Chef, Ji Peng Chen oversees the kitchen. Evidently all the pinching and folding of these little food packages is too time consuming to make them daily.
By the end I was finally growing full, but we had to sample the dessert, sesame fritters! It was a perfect ending. Much better than fortune cookies, which really aren't a Chinese thing anyway.
I took a few moments to head back towards the restroom, so I could enjoy the scenes along the way.
The bar was pretty empty by this time, but I could see the yellow tile work and the painted "fish scales" above the bar. I imagine at night, this cool scene is a happening place.
These fish greeted me when I walked into the Ladies Room. Wallpaper? I'm not sure, but it was lovely.
When I was a kid I rated bathrooms and I would have given this one an A+. They even had mouthwash available, which I've never seen in a Chinese restaurant.
The Best Wall
The place had emptied out by the time we finished, so I was able to get a look behind one large seating area. The whole wall was decorated with hand-laid mahjong tiles!
One server saw me gasping as I recognized what the tiny rectangles were. She told me the exact number of tiles that were used, but of course I can't remember. It made me want to go home and pull out my grandmother's old game... and do a little artwork!
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.