Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge

These rolls really rock.

In case you couldn’t tell by our blog name, we love a good alliteration and a good ampersand. That’s not to even mention our love for a good theme, and Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge has all three. A strong start to our review, to be sure.

Lounge is the perfect word for this restaurant. Rock & Rolls Sushi Lounge is small and dark, but also very cool. Classic rock music plays while an Elvis statue silently rocks on in the corner. The center of the establishment is the bar around which the rest of the restaurant is situated.

The whole shebang

The Fizz

The fizz options at Rock & Rolls really knock it out of the park. We tried two cocktails–the Bad Company Martini and the Purple Rain. The Bad Company consists of your choice of cucumber or watermelon juice, 1876 vodka, lemon juice, mint, and a chili salt rim. Even non-martini drinkers will die for this delicious cocktail. It’s refreshing and the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, not to mention SO photogenic. The Purple Rain is Empress 1908 Gin, Chase elderflower liqueur, lavender, simple syrup, lemon juice, and a splash of champagne. This is a unique and equally-delicious cocktail that’s heavy on the lavender. These cocktails really go well with any dish, which is why they pair so well with a sushi lounge of such unique offerings. 

Giddy for Gyoza

The Fork

Okay, let’s talk courses. This is a sushi lounge, but that isn’t to say that Rock and Rolls neglects their starters. This go-round, we ordered the spicy miso soup and the gyoza. The miso soup is a classic miso soup, plus. Plus sriracha, plus simbal, plus delicious hotness. When it comes to the gyoza, you will get a choice of fried or steamed. Note that the fry in this scenario isn’t just a pan fry as you might expect, it’s an actual deep fry. We learned this after ordering but were not disappointed in the least.

We also ordered a California roll, for comparison’s sake

Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for. The sushi. We’ve already mentioned balance in the fizz section, but want to reiterate that here. Rock & Rolls is great at balancing flavor profiles in one dish. We ordered three rolls–the Rhapsody of Bohemia, the Light My Fire, and the Californication. The Calfornication was different than expected but very good. The fried spicy jalapeño rings really add to this roll. The two others, however, were the star of this meal.The secret to the Rhapsody of Bohemia is a strawberry topping, which sounds strange but pairs excellently with the spice of the rest of the roll. Then, there was the Light My Fire, a goat cheese and jalapeño concoction. Let’s just say, we ate the entire meal and then ordered another Light My Fire roll. So. good.

And light my fire it did

We topped this absolute monstrosity of a meal with tempura ice cream. The batter could be thinner but the cake on the bottom of the ice cream was soft and tasty. We likely won’t be ordering this again, mostly because we would rather save the room for more sushi!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: We’re going to be blunt about this. Parking sucks. It’s a tiny parking lot for a tiny shopping center with five other businesses in it. Try to carpool if going with a group or be prepared to park in the grass.
  • Reservations: We recommend making a reservation, especially for a busy night like Friday or Saturday. We called the morning of on a Saturday and were able to get one, albeit not at our perfect time, so the earlier the better.
  • Don’t knock it ‘till you try it. Rock & Rolls has several unique flavor combinations on their list. Ask your server for recommendations based on your palette.
  • Sharing is caring! Try the widest variation of sushi by sharing rolls with your companions. 
There’s a cake hidden under all that heaven

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Rock & Rolls?

We think Rock ‘n Rolls makes a great date night spot, but an already-in-a-relationship date night, not first-date-never-met date night. While food and cocktails are exquisite, it can get loud which can put a damper on conversation. As we said, the space isn’t huge, so we would refrain from taking huge groups unless you plan ahead so they can set the space up. Considering Mindy did go there before senior year homecoming in high school, though, it’s certainly an option. 

The Tunes

Finally, we can release f&f2: sushi & gyoza to the world! These chill rock jams are the ideal pairing for a plate of sushi and a cocktail. You’ll also notice several live recordings on the list. Covid has taken its toll and we are READY for live music again. In the meantime, though, these live covers will do the trick! Enjoy.

Muse Bistro

A brunch to inspire the artist in you.

It feels gooood to be back. Between both of us starting new jobs in the last few months, making some difficult personal decisions regarding the future, preparing for a big move, and Texas freezing over last month, things have been hectic in the Fizz & Fork universe, to say the least. We are finally back to regularly-scheduled programming, though, and nothing feels more normal and right than sitting down to write about a new restaurant for you to enjoy.

Sorry to get so meta on y’all there for a minute. We know why you’re here, so let’s dig right in.

Simple, but it stands out from the crowd

Muse Bistro is Corpus Christi’s newest and hottest spot for “brunch, bites, and booze on the Bay,” as their tagline puts it. The bistro just opened up back in December 2020 and is already making waves on the Corpus Christi dining scene. The restaurant is unassuming on the outside with a simple white storefront and black logo, but gorgeous on the inside. If we were to describe the decor, it would be French bohemian–lots of greenery, rattan, and marble countertops. Even more impressive than the decor? The food, which is mostly brunch with a Cajun twist.

Have you ever seen anyone happier to be holding a guava mimosa?

The Fizz

We started off brunch in the usual way–with mimosas! Muse has carafes of mimosas featuring cranberry, grapefruit, or orange juice. While those are relatively standard, what is not is their standalone guava mimosa,  which, of course, is what we ordered. This drink was heavy on the guava flavor so if that’s your thing, you’ll absolutely love it. It’s a very unique twist on the mimosa. Besides mimosas, Muse has a few other signature cocktails, like “The Bayside” and “The Muse,” which we look forward to trying on our next trip!

Itty bitty waffles

The Fork

The menu at Muse is not expansive, but in our estimation that is because the limited things they do, they do right. We ordered the Papas Bravas, Southwest Avocado Toast, French Toast, and Mini Chicken and Waffle Kebab. Let’s start with our “tapa,” the Papas Bravas. We had something similar to this when we went to MAD that spurred on this choice, and we weren’t disappointed. The sauce is incredible, with plenty of creamy cheese and a dash of spice. The avocado toast was served on very crispy bread and among the toppings were grilled shrimp and an unexpected jalapeño slaw that added a great texture and spice. This dish was filling without being heavy.

Jalapeño slaw. Don’t knock it ’till you try it.

Now, onto the sweet side of things! The French Toast was a classic French Toast. What we found to be the most unique about it was the maple syrup, which tasted like it was mixed with honey. Yum. Then, the pièce de résistance of the whole experience, and what Muse Bistro has come to be known for so far–the Mini Chicken and Waffle Kebab. This dish is not only adorable, but it tastes amazing. The tiny waffles are crunchy and precious, with the same honeyed maple syrup as the french toast. The real star of the show, though, is the fried chicken. These small chicken bites are fried with Cajun spices that are unreal and so flavorful. Definitely recommend! Next on our list? Trying the mini Fruity Pebbles waffles.

Can’t go wrong with a classic French toast.

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Because Muse’s focus is on brunch and bites, they are open a limited number of days and hours of the week. Brunch is from 11:00 a.m. through 3 p.m. and evening tapas are served from 5 p.m. to close on every day they are open, which is Thursday–Sunday.
  • Parking: Muse is located on Starr street in downtown Corpus, which is, *ahem* annoying to park in. However, you should be able to find a metered spot close to the restaurant or a free spot just a couple short blocks away.
  • This restaurant is not set up with a typical wait staff ordering situation. Instead, customers walk up to the main bar to order their food and drinks, then take a number and wait there for their food to be brought out. 
Crispy and creamy

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Muse Bistro?

During normal times, Muse would be a great place for a brunch with the gals, or if you’re free on a Thursday or Friday morning, even better, as there’s less of a wait. Upon further research, however, it seems that Muse Bistro is temporarily closed, as all the restaurants on the Coastal Bend are dealing with a severe staff shortage problem. They will certainly be reopened before their Derby event next month on May 1st, but stay tuned to their website and social media for updates.

We hope you can enjoy brunch on the Bayside soon, and we’ll see you back here next week!

North Italia

The North of Italy in the South of Texas

Wow, we’re back. While right now it’s sunny and 75 degrees outside, that was very much not the case a week ago, and we’ve never been more grateful to be safe and sound. Our winter wonderland quickly became a nightmare and we sincerely hope you are all safe and taking care of yourselves. On a quick but very real note, if you were deeply affected by last week’s winter storms and still in need of assistance, FEMA has assistance available and the easiest way to apply is through this website.

Before the apocalypse descended upon Texas, though, we were able to take a visit to North Italia, located in the Uptown/Galleria area of Houston. Our last post was about our at-home Valentine’s Day meal idea, an Italian-inspired Shrimp and Lobster ravioli dish, so we decided to venture out and find an Italian meal you don’t have to cook yourself. The vibe of the whole North Italia restaurant is sort of modern Italian rustic. Plus, the kitchen has glass walls so you can spy on the chef making pasta from scratch, sizzling up your meal, and yelling at the sous chef. It’s dinner and a show. (Kidding about the yelling part, in case you weren’t sure.)

Will you accept this rose? And this Pinot Grigio?

The Fizz

We started our meal off with a glass of the Matteo Braidot Pinot Grigio. This wine was super tasty, with notes of pear and apple. It was balanced, not overly sweet or tart. For a “sweet” wine, it would be considered on the dryer side. If you prefer red wine, we suggest a Chianti or Red Zinfandel to pair with a red sauce dish, or a Pinot Noir to go with a white sauce dish. While we took it easy on the drinks this time around, the cocktail menu at North Italia is nothing to be mocked. Next time we go, we plan to try the Julietta (Ginger and vanilla-infused Tito’s vodka, Italian elderflower, lime, prosecco) or the Ginger Blossom Margarita (Espolon blanco tequila, fiorente elderflower, greenbar ginger, cucumber, and lime). 

The Wild Shrimp Scampi

The Fork

Appetizers can make or break your expectations for a meal, and in this case, they were definitely made. We ordered the Wild Shrimp Scampi, which consisted of shrimp, blistered tomatoes, grana padano, garlic confit, herb butter, charred lemon, and grilled bread. There are four shrimp, so it’s good to share between 2-4 people, and even once the shrimp are gone, the tomato mixture is still wonderful as a bread spread on its own. Considering how heavy Italian food can be, this appetizer is the perfect light option.

Peep those pine nuts!

For the main dish, we ordered a Tuscan kale salad and the Strozzapreti. The Tuscan kale salad was made of crispy pancetta, charred grape, apple, pistachio, breadcrumbs, and parmesan vinaigrette. This is no ordinary salad. We had never tried a charred grape until this dinner, but we can best describe it as a grape, but almost smoky. The grapes were truly the shining star of this dish and added depth to a salad that was overall very light and crisp thanks to the tartness of the apple, tangy parmesan, and saltiness from the pancetta. The other dish was the Strozzapreti…and y’all. This dish was so flippin’ good. It was chicken, roasted mushroom (incredible!!), spinach, toasted pine nut, and parmesan cream. Everything at North Italia, including the pasta, is made from scratch, and it shows. All the flavors in this dish complement each other beautifully. The nuttiness of the pine nuts pairs so well with the earthy roasted mushrooms and the tanginess of the parmesan is the figurative cherry on top. Also, because we wondered at first too, no, parmesan cream is not just another way of saying Alfredo sauce. This sauce is its own beast entirely. It’s not rich like Alfredo–it coats the pasta beautifully and isn’t overwhelming.

It is not in our nature to leave without dessert, especially when gelato is involved. This being an Italian restaurant, gelato was involved, so…we ordered the gelato of the day, the stracciatella. For those not familiar, stracciatella consists of dark chocolate chips folded into a classic vanilla base. It’s the quintessential meal topper because it isn’t too rich with chocolate and won’t leave you feeling overly stuffed. The gelato isn’t pictured because, quite frankly, we were too excited and it was too good. 

This salad is worth the feature

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Locations: We visited the Houston location, but there are actually North Italia restaurants in several states across the United States. Specifically for our Texas folks, there are locations in Houston, Dallas, Plano, and two in Austin!
  • Hot tip! Located just an elevator ride away from North Italia is the Rooftop Cinema Club. They’ve been closed for Covid reasons, but this open-air movie theater concept is re-opening soon and would make the perfect cherry on top after a dinner at North Italia!
  • Happy hour at North Italia is from 3:00-6:00 pm so if you go for an early dinner you can get some great deals on wine and beer! Plus, all day Sunday are half-price bottles of wine.
Chef’s…and I cannot emphasize this enough…kiss

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to North Italia?

North Italia is an ideal date spot, whether it’s a romantic date or girls’ date. In the evening time, the candles and dark atmosphere are very romantic, but during the day the place is much brighter and, with a solid lunch menu and extravagant cocktail menu, would be a great day date with friends. Either way, North Italia is a great place when you want high-quality, made-from-scratch Italian food but don’t want to completely blow your budget for the whole month (maybe just half the month?).

As the Italians say, *chef’s kiss* 🤌🏼

See you back here next time! Xx

Café Poêtes

Paris in Texas (but don’t get it confused with Paris, Texas!)

January is finally over, huzzah! In the middle of what seemed like the longest month to date, it was easy to forget about some of the good things coming our way. Plus, we were kind of busy eating donuts and more donuts. But alas, February is finally here, which means Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! So don your heart-shaped sunnies, buy your chocolate strawberries, knit some hearts onto a sweater, and buckle up for the season of love.

When we were thinking about the best way to celebrate love this year, one of our first thoughts was our bestie gals. While we love romantic love, and don’t worry, we’ll talk more about that next week, this past year has been particularly tough on friendships separated by the pandemic. The best place we could think of to celebrate the girls who are there with us through it all was Café Poêtes, a French restaurant and tea house in Midtown-Montrose in Houston. This bistro is elegant, glamorous, just as beautiful outside as it is inside, and very, very Parisian. 

Imagine having tea here with your besties

The Fizz

This week’s fizz is a little bit more toned down than our usual cocktails and wine agenda. That being said, it is important to highlight that those things do exist in this bistro! The restaurant even goes so far as to dub themselves a wine club, and they host events with wine pairings that complement their food fusions, which is a great way to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. Additionally, they have a limited cocktail menu that includes the Kir Royale French cocktail, which is high on our list of things to try next time we go!

It would be impossible for us to talk about the beverages offered at Café Poêtes without mentioning the tea. Everyday from 11am-5pm, the cafe has High Tea, which is exactly what it sounds like. Even tea connoisseurs will be delighted at the selection, which changes seasonally and is offered in small or large teapot sizes. The beautiful teapots are just the cherry on top.

Hidden under that greenery is a melting pot of cheesy pasta

The Fork

Between artisan quiches, savory eclairs, and hachis parmentier (?), there is very little on the Café Poêtes menu we can pronounce, but oh so much we enjoy. During High Tea, pastries and small dishes take the cake (Pun! Always! Intended!). The Madeleines? Incredible.

If you’re there for lunch or dinner, we definitely recommend asking your server for recommendations to help you dissect the menu options. The meal menu changes seasonally, too, so what we ordered may not be available, but we can assure you that you will be in good hands. Keep an open mind, too! Trying something new never hurt anybody, and the French menu and fusions are full of new things. We ordered a cheese soufflé dish that was melt-in-your-mouth incredible and came in the cutest little pot. We also ordered a basquaise eclair, which was light but satisfying. Both of our dishes had a unique combination of flavors we never would have thought to pair, but which somehow work so well. We don’t think we could ever get enough.

Tea for two

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Make a rezzy! While you can technically walk in and cross your fingers, between limited space in addition to social distancing restrictions, it’s unlikely you’ll get a spot without waiting excessive amounts of time. You can make a reservation via phone, email, or on their website.
  • You will want to take photos when you go. Trust. Heads up, though, if you’re any sort of professional photographer (or have a camera that makes it look like you are), you’ll likely be asked to pay the $40 photography fee. Yes, the space is that beautiful, and yes, that’s why we don’t have a ton of photos.
  • Parking: There is a tiny parking lot for the restaurant on the backside, but if there’s no spot available there, you’ll need to do some street parking.
You will want to take photos. Case in point.

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Café Poêtes?

Valentine’s Day weekend! Café Poêtes is always chic and girly, but on this weekend in particular we’re sure it will be akin to Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. With your girlfriends as your companions, the trip is destined to turn out far better than it did for Harry and Cho. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the weekend of Valentine’s Day, Café Poêtes is hosting a “Galentine in Paris High Tea” event with three “tiers,” from 11am-5pm each day. If you do decide to go there with your honey, the bistro also has a “Valentine in Paris Dinner” event each evening of the weekend composed of a romantic four-course dinner.

How do you plan to celebrate the day? With one true love or with all of your true loves (gals)? Stay tuned for ideas on what you can do for a memorable Valentine’s Day date night at home, coming next Wednesday!

Gates Donut Shop

Welcome to Corpus Christi’s favorite donut.

Open the gates, everybody! It’s time to visit Gates Donut Shop in Mindy’s hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas. We’re taking a bit of a detour today by not covering a full-service restaurant, but we felt the best way to introduce our first coverage of the Corpus Christi area was to show something iconic, and Gates Donuts certainly fits the bill. The simple storefront is a Corpus landmark, and tourists and locals alike flock to the block-letter sign.

The spread (what we didn’t devour on the way home)

The Donuts

The donuts at Gates fall under three umbrella categories–cake, glazed, filled, and specialty. From the cake section, we ordered chocolate and classic, but the option list goes on and on, from blueberry to cinnamon sugar. In our opinion, the best way to judge a donut place is by their take on the classic cake, and Gates Donuts did not disappoint. Their cake donuts are thick, sugary, and not one crumb could be called dry. They’re truly *chef’s kiss.*

The ever-important ooze of the chocolate-filled donut

From the filled collection, we ordered chocolate and apple. We were sorely tempted by the raspberry as well, but a line must be drawn somewhere! The apple-filled donut was more akin to a very puffy apple turnover. As for the chocolate, well, if you can see the delightful ooze in the photo above, you can probably guess how that went. 

Tragically, we arrived too late for them to still have our prime choice of glazed, the buttermilks, but we were able to  pick up some traditional glazed donuts. While happy with what we did get, we beg of you to learn from our dire mistakes and Get. There. Early. We’re probably cheating a bit by saying this but we actually *have* been to Gates before and, all bias aside, their buttermilk donuts alone are worth the trip. Buttermilk disappointment aside, we were able to get two of the Gates Donut pièce de résistance–the maple bacon bar. This house special is a flaky maple Long John topped with a full slab of thick-sliced bacon, and it is a salty-sweet paradise. Bacon lovers rejoice for this one. Our general consensus of the entire smorgasbord is that 82 years of business is a pretty good indicator you’re not going to get a bad donut.

The “More”

We couldn’t exactly do “fizz” this week since this hometown joint is not exactly the type of place to serve trendy cocktails or artisan sodas. What they do have, however, are items that are not donuts. We ordered a plain sausage kolache and a jalapeno and cheese kolache. These kolaches were good, but we wouldn’t go farther than that. They’re not going to knock your socks off, but still–a solid kolache that will make for a solid, satisfying breakfast.

Then come their fried (!)  cinnamon rolls, available with or without a pecan topping. Those things are monstrous but even so, you may not want to share. To quench your thirst in the most breakfast-friendly way, they also have coffee, cappuccinos, and a variety of milk. Aside from these highlights, Gates Donuts also has the most adorable iced cookies to match every holiday, including Texas-shaped ones, and have the option for custom orders for parties or events!

Spot the tiny chef’s hat!

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Some donuts, including the fan favorite buttermilks, are only available on weekends.
  • Plan to take your goodies elsewhere. Gates Donut Shop is drive-thru only and there’s no outdoor seating available.
  • Favorites sell out quick! Gates donuts are made each day, which means that they’re always fresh and moist, but also that there’s only a limited number of each flavor available. If you’re after a specific type, go early.
The iconic Gates sign

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Gates Donut Shop?

Early weekend mornings! If you’re in Corpus, that means you’re in easy driving distance of the beach, so our suggestion would be to go right when Gates opens (6 am), pick up a batch of your favorite donuts and a coffee or two, and head on out to the beach to enjoy the sunrise. It may be early, but those views and those flavors can’t be beat.

Are you from Corpus or a frequent beach-loving visitor? Comment your favorite restaurants in the Sparkling City by the Bay so we don’t miss a thing!

MAD Houston

We went mad for MAD.

Welcome back, fizzies! (Can we call you that? It felt better than forkies or forkers, but to each their own.) We are so grateful for the time we got to spend soaking in the holidays with our loved ones and eating our favorite recipes (link), but also so excited to get right back to trying and sharing new foods in the new year. 2021 has taken long enough to get here, and we are so grateful to finally be ringing it in tomorrow!

This week we’re going to take you back to the night of one of our favorite experiences of 2020, although it certainly didn’t start out like that. After an almost-missed reservation and a truly harrowing Uber ride we won’t go into here, we arrived at MAD Houston feeling exactly that…mad. We stepped through the neon doors and into the front vestibule with a flurry of apologies and what just happeneds. To be honest, we knew MAD was an upscale restaurant, and we half expected a snobby reception. We were late, after all, and wearing monochrome wig/outfit ensembles (Sometimes girls just wanna have fun!). We’re pleased to report that we could not have been more wrong. Our hosts were overly gracious, assuring us that there was nothing to worry about and that we were finally free to relax. 


The bathroom in question.

This was the start we had been hoping for, and we continued to be pleasantly surprised as we walked through the restaurant to our table. We have to pause for a quick second here to discuss the inside of this place. The decor skirts just perfectly south of “too much,” and if the food wasn’t so mind-blowing, we might say that taking the atmosphere in is the real treat. Everywhere you look is another neon sign, oversized chandelier, or unique Spanish art piece to stare at. If it tells you anything about the level of grandeur, the most ‘grammed spot of the whole place is in the literal bathroom.

Okay, enough about the bathroom. On to the food!

Left to right: Ay Güey, Qué Guay, Fresa Gin Tonic, Rosé

The Fizz

We definitely needed a drink or two after our struggle getting to the restaurant, so we started right off with the fizz–three in total. While expensive, the drinks are also sizable, so don’t feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth. The first drink we ordered was a rosé off the wine menu, the “Bodegas Muga ‘Rosado’ 2018.” It was a dry rosé from Spain that is definitely not for a sweet wine lover, but which we think would pair well with any of the meat dishes on the menu. 

We then moved on to cocktails, which we would say to order before your meal so as not to be too distracted by other flavors. At the tippy-top-of-the-menu was the “Ay Güey, Qué Guay.” This was a tequila-based drink that was a little smoky and a little sweet. The toppers were a spicy foam and a grilled pineapple chunk that lends a zing. We ended with the winner of the group, so good we had to order two–the “Fresa Gin Tonic.” The alcohols at the base of the tonic are a gin and a flavored brandy. Building from there is an explosion of fruity fresh flavors. Strawberry and basil win out for most apparent, but mint and lemon lurk below the surface too. Additionally, we would be remiss not to mention how absolutely mesmerized we were by the basil-infused ice cube that came in this drink. Instead of being watered down, the flavors just got more pronounced as time went on. Incredible.

The Fork

We started off with tapas: the “Bravas Tomás,” the “Serranito,” and the “Empanadillas de Cochinillo.” The Bravas Tomás looked essentially like a plate of cheese fries got taken on a vacation to Spain. But oh boy, did they taste like so much more. The potatoes were soft on the inside but the skins were crisped to perfection, and the sauce draped on top was thick and creamy, akin in consistency but not flavor with a hollandaise sauce. Next up on the tapas was the Serranito. This was “glass bread” topped with the “secret” Spanish cut of pork and a variety of vegetables and spices. Glass bread is called so because of how crunchy and delicate the outer skin is, while staying soft on the inside. The dish sounds complicated, but it was almost like a Philly cheesesteak went on vacation…to Spain. We admit we’re being a bit ridiculous with the Spanish vacation jokes, but it’s our way of trying to relate these foods to more familiar ingredients and make the ordering process a bit less intimidating. Hopefully it’s helpful. Last on the tapas list were the Empanadillas, aptly named because they were teeny-tiny and adorable, approximately the size of a typical Japanese gyoza. They were crunchy and flaky with a mango-apricot chutney that really upped the ante.

Not your average cheesy potatoes

For a full entreé, split between three people from the wood fired rice section, we ordered the “Fideuá de Cochinillo.” Tip: if you want to order any of the wood fired rice options, make sure you do so as soon as you arrive, because they take a good 40 minutes to be prepared. The full cast iron is brought to your table by the chef, who then serves a portion to each diner and is more than happy to answer any questions. We were apparently really feeling the suckling pig this night, because it was a prominent feature of both the Empanadillas and this dish as well, and wow. It did not disappoint–we all agreed it is rare to find meat that tender. The base of the dish is roasted angel hair pasta, topped by the suckling pig and mixed with onions and porcini mushrooms. This dinner was truly in our top five meals of 2020, and that’s saying a lot considering we started this entire blog about food this year. 

This cast iron was huge!

Things to Know Before You Go “MAD:”

  • Reservations: Make a reservation. We cannot stress this enough. They are incredibly strict (reservations last exactly two hours) and not making one will cause a lot of heartbreak, hanger, and pain, especially if you’re wearing heels. Additionally, don’t be late to your reservation. Any more than fifteen minutes late and you’ll lose your spot.
  • Parking: You’ve got options when it comes to parking. There is complimentary valet available at the front, although make sure you have cash to tip if you go that route. There is also free self-parking in a nearby garage, or there is metered parking lining the street leading up to the restaurant entrance.
  • The menu: MAD’s menu is extensive and can be a bit confusing, especially considering half of it is in Spanish and that there are a lot of unfamiliar ingredients used in their dishes. We recommend looking over it before you get there, although the waitstaff is incredibly helpful in walking through the menu with you.
  • Portions: Another important thing to note about the menu is the portion sizes. Most of their dishes are traditionally tapas, so you’ll want to order a few to get a good variety and enough food. On the other hand, some of their dishes, like the “Wood Roasted Rice” or “Over the Open Fire Pit” dishes are huge and designed for multiple people to eat them. Be aware of this, and if you’re not sure, always ask your waiter!
We weren’t kidding about the wigs.

So When Should You Make Your Own Trip to MAD?

MAD is definitely not a restaurant you decide to go to on a whim when you don’t feel like making dinner. MAD is an experience fit for an occasion, like a birthday or anniversary dinner. It’s very expensive, we won’t lie, but it’s worth it. Not only is the food a unique and delightful fusion of Spanish foods, but the atmosphere will make you stare in wonderment the entire time you’re there. We hear they’re also having a killer New Year’s Eve dinner, but reservations are tight so check for yours, like, yesterday, and try not to go mad in the process 😉

That’s it for this week! We’ll see you next year, fizzies, with a recipe inspired by the cocktails of MAD (Really enjoying that. Probably won’t be stopping anytime soon). Happy New Year’s!

Eggnog Taste Test

‘Tis the season for Christmas trees, Rudolph, the movie Elf, gingerbread houses, garland, and…eggnog.

Those two little words invoke a strong reaction in most people. For some, it’s adoration. For others, it’s closer to disgust. Us, you ask? One of us has the former reaction, one the latter. We’ll let you guess who has which…

Regardless of your feelings about egg nog, one thing that’s for sure is that purchasing eggnog can be a bit overwhelming. Should you get alcoholic or not? What brand? Should you get spiced or classic? Our reader Julia requested some eggnog advice when we asked over on Instagram @fizz.and.fork what you all wanted to see from us during this busy season, so here we are, hoping to make your Christmas grocery shopping just a tad easier!

Before we dive in, a quick disclaimer–we know technically this taste testing isn’t from a restaurant, but we’re going to file it under that category because you a.) buy these without additional ingredients and b.) no preparation is required. Now, let’s get crackin’!

Spiced, classic, and soy options (Left to right)

For Everyone

To really get the full scope of the nog world, we bought three brands/flavors/types. We got these from Target, but you’ll find similar options at your local grocery store, whatever that may be. First up on the docket, in the #1 spot on our flight board was Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Eggnog. Hear us out on this one–it tasted like Bluebell classic vanilla ice cream that has been melted, followed by an aftertaste of Dubble Bubble gum. Granted, that doesn’t sound like the most appealing description, but this one was actually really good! We both liked it (a feat considering one of us isn’t a fan of nog in general) and this was our favorite of the three. It’s a good starter nog if you’ve never tried the drink before. 

Next up, in the #2 spot? Oak Farms Holiday Eggnog. This one was a classic eggnog–thicker than the previous one, very creamy and eggy, and with a full mouth-feel. The vanilla was a lot stronger, too, since this one didn’t have added spices. If you know you like eggnog, you would love it. If you’re not a fan, we would say to probably skip this one.

We rounded out the non-alcoholic nogs with an option for our non-dairy friends, Silk Nog Original. We have to say we were skeptical about this one at first because, well, it’s eggnog without the egg, but we were pleasantly surprised. It’s definitely thinner than classic eggnog, which can be off-putting, but it’s got a great cinnamon flavor to it. To us, it tasted like the milk in a cereal bowl full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

For the Adults

How could we not get that mason jar?

Now, to really get you into the holiday “spirits,” we also taste-tested spiked eggnogs. Yes, that pun was fully intended, and you should have expected it by now! Same as before, we tried three different brands, all available at your local Total Wines.

The flight board was replenished and newly in the first spot was Pennsylvania Dutch spiked eggnog. According to the Total Wines consultant, this is their best seller, and we believe it. The combo is a doozy of eggnog, rum, brandy, and blended whiskey. It’s full and creamy but the brown liquors bring a spiciness that will warm you down to your toes.

Feeling hopeful from our first round, we poured a glass from the #2 bottle. This one was Old New England Cinnamon Spiced Nog and oh, gosh. I wish I had better news, but we both hated this one. It’s very viscous (almost clumpy?), not sweet at all, and the cinnamon adds to the already-spicy rum to make the whole thing over the top. Wouldn’t recommend this one unless you really love rum.

Third up was Appalachian Eggnog, which came in really cute mason jar packaging that, we will confess, largely contributed to our purchasing of it. This one was a bit different because instead of being a mix of eggnog with alcohol, it was actually an “eggnog cream liqueur.” This one fell pretty solidly in the middle of the other two. It had a touch of creamy sweetness but was still pretty strong on the alcohol front. Overall, 6.5/10. We think this one might be good as a mixer!

Considering going to pour a glass right now…

What you should know before you buy eggnog:

• If you can’t decide whether you should pick up an alcoholic or a non-alcoholic nog, go with the kid-friendly version. You can always pick up a bottle of bourbon, rum, or whiskey (or all three) and do the mixing yourself!

• If you do want to go with a spiked nog, we suggest going to a liquor store instead of picking it up at your grocery store. Each person who works there will be able to guide you towards something that will fit your tastes and your budget.

• Eggnog is great on its own, but also super fun to mix. You can pair it with coffee as a substitute for your classic creamer or with ice cream for an eggnog float! 

When should you have eggnog?

Unfortunately, Christmastime is about the only time you’ll be able to find eggnog in the stores, so make sure you make the most of it! Holiday parties, Christmas dinners, cookie-making sessions, a casual Thursday evening, any would be good options for eggnog as long as it’s in the months of November or December! As for us, we’ve got six bottles in our fridge that we don’t intend to let go to waste…

We hope this was a helpful comparison of the available eggnog options, but whatever your choice in holiday beverage, we wish you the best Christmas season. We’ll be back next week with TWO of our favorite holiday recipes. Until then, happy nogging!

Texas Renaissance Festival

A Texan take on Medieval times and foods

Hear ye, hear ye! We are here to make a proclamation that the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF)  is more than just jousting and elf ears, more than your average kings, queens, and belly dancing. It is all of those things, certainly, but RenFest also happens to be a festive, fun place to try a smorgasbord of European foods.

When we arrived and traipsed our way across the grounds to the arches of the Arena, we found ourselves seated in the green-and-white-striped French section, complete with sassy queen and flowy-haired knight (We love you, Sir Philippe!). France is one of four countries represented in the famous joust matches, alongside Germany, Spain, and England, but those are far from the only four cuisines represented at the festival. Besides those, there are also options for Greek, Polish, and Italian food, plus endless fusions and mix-and-match options. As you walk, you’ll hop from Medieval country to Medieval country in the span of yards, with plenty of mythical creatures and curious peddlers sprinkled in between.

The Fizz

Our first drink stop was The Sea Devil Tavern, where we picked up the ever-favorite Shiner Oktoberfest beer and a frozen hurricane to keep us cool in the heat that pervades Texas even in the fall. While not cheap per se, food and drinks at RenFest are more affordable than you might expect for a large festival like this.

All hail the Queen(s)

Later, we strolled over to England and stopped at the Tea and Strumpets vendor, where we ordered the Red Queen’s Punch and the White Queen’s Punch. These drinks were described to us as sangria-adjacent, but in our opinion they tasted like spiked iced tea, which was very fitting for an English drink! These punches were refreshing and light and not-too-sweet and oh so yummy! The White Queen’s drink was a bit more floral, with notes of hibiscus and citrus, while the Red Queen’s had a flavor profile more akin to berries and herbs. Both were incredible, a pleasant surprise, and probably our favorite thing we got all day.

Located a short walk from the Arena!

The Fork

Cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom, and ground beef

After cheering on France in the joust, we ambled over to Polonia to get some of our favorite Polish foods. There was a surprisingly wide selection, including three types of pierogi—cheese and potato, sauerkraut and mushroom, and ground beef. Catherine’s favorite of these was the ground beef, and mine (Mindy’s) was the sauerkraut and mushroom. Aside from the pierogi, we also ordered a combination plate to get the best of all worlds. This plate included pierogi, bigos (similar to a hunter’s stew), golabki (the cabbage roll), kielbasa (the sausage), a pickle, and a dinner roll. It was a lot of food, but a great way to try everything on the menu if you can’t decide or don’t know what you’ll like. Also, if you’re not Polish, don’t be too intimidated by the many consonants and names. For the most part, if you like cabbage and sausages, you’ll be a big fan of all of it. We definitely recommend Polonia. The food was great and the people were very sweet and helpful!

Brownies and cheesecake in one? What more could we want?

We got dessert at Tea and Strumpets, the same vendor we ordered our Queen’s Punches drinks from. There, we ordered a cheesecake brownie tarte. While very pretty, it was exactly what it sounds like. The bottom layer was a brownie, topped by a layer of cheesecake and then a decorative piece of chocolate. It was cool, delicious, and not too rich—great for us to share as we relaxed and people watched (There were plague doctors! It was very fun.).

Drool worthy

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • A festival program is going to cost you $5, but it’s fully worth it for the detailed acts and shows schedule alone if nothing else. The map is also great and will absolutely save your feet!
  • Speaking of saving your feet, please wear comfortable shoes. We know it may be tempting to break out your most queenly heels or your brand-new boots, but the grounds are not exactly small and you will be miserable if you’re limping from show to show.
  • If you’re looking for healthy options, don’t fret, they exist! The program has a convenient healthy eating section that outlines meal options and where they can each be found at the festival.
  • Last but not least, eating (and drinking) at TRF is a marathon, not a sprint. You may be tempted to order full meals everywhere you go, but the best tip we can offer is to get small offerings each place you go so that you save plenty of room to try everything you want.

When should you make your own trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival?

Now, now, now! This weekend, November 28th-29th, is actually the last weekend RenFest will be open for the 2020 season. The theme is Celtic Christmas, and we’ve heard rumors that Santa and his elves might make an appearance. If you can’t make it this weekend, don’t worry too much. TRF will be back next year in October 2021 as usual, and you will have your pick of which themed weekend you would like to attend! Next year, we want to go for Pirate Adventure weekend!

One last thing before we go—one of our favorite things about the Texas Renaissance Festival is that nearly all of the vendors and artisans are small local business owners. When you buy things at RenFest shoppes, it’s very likely you’re interacting with the business owner, their family, or their close friends. As we enter this holiday season of giving, we highly encourage you to go and support small Texan-owned businesses like these.

We’ll see you back here next Wednesday for our regularly-scheduled programming! What recipe do you think we were inspired to make?

Present Company

The Devil and all three Sanderson sisters walk into a bar…and call it Present Company.

Look, we know Halloween is “over,” but our joint desire to wear a costume for any occasion, drink over-the-top themed cocktails, and watch the “it’s freakin’ bats” Vine? Never. Letting. It. Go. 

Luckily for us, Present Company, a 21+ only bar in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, fully leans into Halloween. Lucky for all of you, they do this with each and every major holiday, so you haven’t missed out. These people are clearly our people.

When you walk into Present Company, the first thing you’re going to notice is the explosion of colors. Next, you’ll probably notice the vertical garden…or perhaps the wall of multi-colored potted plants. Maybe the neon signs that light up almost every wall? Now that we think about it, there’s a lot visually to take in at Present Company. Beyond the visuals though, the ambience is added to with an absolutely incredible selection of music. 80s music? Today? Great remixes? Yes, always. Also, if you remember our clawmosas from last week, Present Company was way ahead of the seltzer game. They’ve been offering a La Croix-based cocktail since they opened in 2018. They are the epitome of cool.

The Fork

We didn’t order any food this go-around, BUT don’t feel like just because Present Company is labelled a bar that you have to go hungry. This “bar” also has a full menu with a variety of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, and desserts. Some of the dishes we’re most excited to try are the green chili mac and cheese and the asparagus and goat cheese pizza. Plus, on the weekends they have brunch! You all know by now how much joy that brings us.

Present Company also has some really great specials involving their savory menu. Every Wednesday is “Pinot and Pies” night and every Tuesday is Steak Night, so if you want to have a full meal those would be the best days to go!

Resting Witch Face

The Fizz

Okay, it’s time to get boo-zy (I know, it’s bad. I know. I couldn’t help myself.). We started off our spooky cocktail set with the Resting Witch Face, made of reposado tequila, strega, wolfberry syrup, lime, and a turmeric/lava salt rim. We came for the Sanderson sister print on top, we stayed for the tequila. There’s a nice contrast between the spice of the rim and the berry fruits of the drink. Fair warning though, the Sanderson photo was printed on a thin sheet with the consistency, which was a bit strange, so we pulled those out before drinking!

REDRUM

Up next was the REDRUM: spiced rum, cachaca, aperol, lime, hellfire bitters, peach-habanero jam, and a spiced red sugar rim. This cocktail was a journey from start to finish. The beginning is tart and fruity, then the habanero spicy kicks in the middle, and at the end there are sweet hints of baking spices like clove and cinnamon. This one was our collective favorite. Drinking it makes you feel like a badass—plus, how cute are those little habanero devil horns!

The unfortunately-named Necrophili-Cat

The winner of best stemware of the night goes to the Necrophili-Cat, which was made of Kikori Japanese whiskey, campari, lemon, and hibiscus. We had mixed reviews on this one. At the very least, the first sip may be off-putting. This cocktail tasted a lot like plums and dark fruits as well as licorice. Half the group was pro, half anti.

All hail the pumpkin king!

To top the night off, we ordered the Pumpkin King Shot, composed of Irish whiskey, pumpkin puree, coconut milk, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla and almond extracts. This shot tasted like alcoholic tres leches cake and came in an adorable tiny cauldron. Both of us thought it was delicious, but full disclosure our other company was less of a fan. The takeaway here is that if you’re a fan of pumpkin and fall-flavored things, you would love it.

Although these exact cocktails aren’t available any longer, the folks at Present Company are constantly coming up with unique creations that are worth trying. If you’re going on a regular night, we suggest trying the “Are those Space Pants?” or the “Principal Kisses Alligator” cocktails.

Until next year, Halloween

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: Like many restaurants/bars in Montrose, Present Company offers valet services. There is a gravel lot across the street that is free parking, but be aware that if it fills up, your options are the valet or to find street parking.
  • Parties & Events: Present Company offers private events for whatever number of people you need to accommodate. On the upstairs patio, they have cabanas to be rented out, or you can reserve a table. If you want to host a larger event, you fill out a request form on their website.
  • Covid-19 Guidelines: In pre-Covid times, Present Company was fully open for roaming its two stories, musing over its many neon signs, and ordering at whatever bar was closest to you. However, they’ve done a great job of adapting to make patrons feel safe. Now, a limited number of people are allowed in and groups are directed to a specific table, where a waiter serves them.

When Should You Make Your Own Trip to Present Company?

The holidays, duh! The bar has great vibes all the time, but the way they go all out for the holidays makes a visit truly an event in and of itself.

What holiday would you like to visit Present Company? We personally can’t wait to see what they do for Christmas this year! Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you back here next week for a Present Company-inspired recipe!

MAX’s Wine Dive

Dive into your day with brunch at MAX’s Wine Dive

We have been so excited to share this week’s restaurant with you because it also means we get to share our favorite meal with you—BRUNCH.

Not to go on too much of a tangent, but brunch, in our opinion, is the quintessential mealtime. It’s not so early that you feel like you have to drag yourself out of bed to go, but not so late that you can’t enjoy all your favorite breakfast foods. Feel like a syrupy monster stack of pancakes? Fine! Want something heartier, like fried chicken? Great! Want them together? Everything goes! Brunch is truly Hannah Montana-style the best of both worlds…and MAX’s Wine Dive knows how to do brunch.

Caramelized pineapple mimosa and peach bellini

The Fizz

Any brunch savant knows that no meal can truly be considered brunch without a good drink…which is why we here at fizz & fork consider a good drink menu to be just as important as the food selection. Here’s what we love about MAX’s—you can choose a bottle of champagne to purchase and they provide you with a juice selection for DIY mimosas. Orange, cranberry, pomegranate, you name it. If that sounds like too much, they also have a great premade drink selection. From the menu, we ordered a couple bellinis and a caramelized pineapple mimosa. The bellinis were classic, refreshing, and paired nicely with our meal. The caramelized pineapple mimosa was unique and not what we expected. It was good, but tasted almost burnt (if a mimosa can be burnt). Our recommendation is to go with the DIY mimosas to get the most bang for your buck!

The Fork

MAX’s Wine Dive describes their menu as “gourmet comfort food.” From our experience, they don’t have a particular style of food, and there are a lot of eclectic, unique options (like carrot cake pancakes!). We ordered the ham and cheese omelette, the fried egg sandwich, and the honey butter chicken benedict. Each entree was served with MAX’s signature home fries, which were incredible. They were a bit on the spicy side, so be aware, but the seasoning was flavorful and not too salty. The omelette had plenty of hearty ham and wasn’t overcooked as omelettes so often are. The fried egg sandwich was HUGE, and though there was a lot packed into it, the ratios were balanced and no flavor overwhelmed another. Our personal favorite was the honey butter chicken benedict. We cannot say enough good things about it. It’s exactly what it sounds like—biscuits topped with fried chicken, poached eggs, gravy, and honey butter sauce. We were a bit wary of the combo at first, but it proved to be a winner, and it brought together what we love so much about brunch, with sweet and savory beautifully balanced.

Things to Know Before You Go:

  • Parking: Parking at MAX’s on Fairview is either street parking or valet. The valet is tip-based, so make sure you have cash on hand if that’s your plan.
  • The area: MAX’s Wine Dive has two locations in Houston (in Montrose and on Washington Ave), one location in San Antonio, one in Denver, and one in Austin, although the ATX location is temporarily closed at the moment. We visited the Montrose location, on Fairview.
  • Seating: There is indoor and outdoor seating available, but if it’s a nice day, the outdoor seating will go pretty quickly. If you make a reservation, be sure to specify which you prefer.
  • Other meals: MAX’s isn’t just brunch! They also serve dinner, complete with quite the robust wine menu.

So when should you make your own trip to MAX’s Wine Dive?

Brunch with out-of-town friends! MAX’s favorite saying (you’ll find it printed on your server’s shirt) is “fried chicken and champagne..why the hell not?” As evidenced by that motto, it’s pretty easy to find something for everyone—from the classy friend who wants only eggs benedict (it’s fine, we’re that friend), or a simple pleasures kind of pal who just wants to go to town on a good chicken and waffles platter. MAX’s Wine Dive has it all, and anyone you bring is sure to be impressed!

Have you been to MAX’s? When did you go, for brunch or dinner? Let us know, and be sure to subscribe to receive notification emails whenever we have a new post! See you next Wednesday!