When you work with a bunch of people that are as indecisive as I am, coming up with plans for a holiday dinner probably shouldn’t have been left to us. The original plan, suggested by our manager was to go to Fox and Hound, a sports bar like two minutes from where the bank, after work and have dinner last week. For whatever reason, the day came and went without much explanation given about the cancellation other than to say we weren’t going there anymore, and needed to come up with something else. Days passed without another plan forming, either because nobody could come up with ideas or more likely because nobody wanted to be the scapegoat, should their suggestion turn out to be a disaster. Tuesday the plan was suggested by the manager that we go to Houston’s, which too, is only a couple minutes from where we work, so it would be close and convenient, and it sounded good to everyone, so the plan was set, Houston’s the following day after work. Wednesday arrived and it turned out that one of our coworkers wasn’t going to be able to make it after all, thus began the process of the manager questioning the entire plan and trying to scrap it for another date which wouldn’t work for everyone any way, so finally after too much confusion for a simple dinner, it was decided that the plan would go ahead as planned, Houston’s after work.
4:15 is too early for dinner if you ask me, but since the bank closes at four and since we work right by the restaurant, it only made sense that we head over right after work, and it’s not like we were seated right away, because for some reason, Houston’s was popping at that time, so we had a short wait before the six of us were led to a booth in back near the kitchen. The ambiance was nice, as it always is at Houston’s, the low lighting and the soothing music, all contributing factors to the warm environment, allowing yourself to forget about the outside world for a little while. The budget was set at twenty-five dollars a piece, which is lower than the price of most entrees, but I wasn’t paying, so I guess I can’t complain. At Houston’s I normally get the Hickory Burger, which is my favorite burger in Memphis, but I wanted to try something new, and with the price restrictions, that left me to choose from some salads, a few sandwiches, and exactly one entrée, since I’d already blown a few dollars of the budget on iced tea. I could have ordered something over twenty-five and then paid the difference myself, but I wasn’t trying to turn a free meal into a bill for me. I guess you can call me cheap, but I prefer thrifty.
I decided on Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, consisting of a piece of buttermilk fried chicken, baby Swiss cheese, spicy slaw, and tomato, which I got with a side of fries, which are near the top of my list of my favorites here. Never having ordered it before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was a lot of food, and it looked absolutely delicious. I dipped a fry in the ramekin of spicy mayonnaise on the side of my dish, and the meal began. For me, mayonnaise used to be one of my least favorite things in the entire culinary world. The mere smell of it would make me start gagging until I ultimately regained composure, or more often, threw up from the disgusting aroma, but as I’ve gotten older and my tastes have evolved, mayonnaise doesn’t disgust me the way it used to, although you’ll never see me voluntarily adding it to anything, the exception being the spicy mayonnaise from Houston’s, which is more like a chipotle sauce, masking the traditional flavors of the white goop with a spicy kick. I can just imagine my dad’s disappointment at his only son eating mayonnaise.
The first thought that popped into my head as I took the inaugural bite of the sandwich, was that there was too much on it. The flavors weren’t bad, per se, in fact that were really good, but there was just way too much of the spicy slaw, and that combined with the tomato, caused everything held within the confines of the bread, to try and slide it’s way out with each bite, making the process of eating the sandwich more difficult and a lot messier than it needed to be. When you eat at a barbecue restaurant, a pulled pork sandwich topped with a thick sauce is expected to be a messy meal, so you go in mentally prepared, but I wasn’t prepared to have creamy slaw falling like raindrops in a monsoon from my sandwich, completely covering portions of my plate. That was my biggest and only complaint about the sandwich, which was otherwise good. The fries however, for the first time at Houston’s, were disappointing, so I’m not going to right them off for one poor experience, when I’ve experienced a lot better quality on every other occasion that I’ve ordered them. It tasted like they were old, had been sitting out for a while. The weren’t hot, and they just had that taste of fries that had been reheated, which is horrible, and why everyone knows not that you don’t reheat French fries because they just aren’t the same.
Overall the meal was good, and it was nice spending time outside of work with people that we spend eight or more hours with, five days a week. As far as sandwiches go, the Hickory Burger is better than Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, but if you’re in the mood for chicken, it’s a good option. I wouldn’t be deterred by my experience with the fries, which probably had something to do with the fact that we were there at an awkward time, between lunch and dinner, so perhaps that could explain the old fries. Like I said, it was a large portion of food, and I took a lot of it home with me for my wife who was very appreciative, because she might be the one person I know that likes Houston’s more than I do. If you haven’t been, you should definitely go. Tell the hostess Kendall sent you, and I guarantee she will treat you like she has no idea who I am.