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Bandera (or should it be "Blandera"?)

gj | Jun 21, 2003 01:45 PM

A while back at a "Taste of Brentwood" event I had what was easily the greatest cornbread of all time, courtesy of Bandera restaurant. It was one of the most wonderful things I'd enjoyed in some time, and I'm no particular fan of cornbread generally.

A lack of lunchtime service being an impediment, I finally made it out that way to try out their other offerings. Sad to say, those didn't amount to much (and neither did the cornbread).

The service was excellent, fast and attentive, as it should be 5 minutes after opening. My waiter did, however, suggest a starter that was inappropriate for a solo eater, a baker's dozen very large peel and eat shrimp. Since I am large, I encompased the multitudes with no problem, but when they arrived it occurred to me that was an inconsiderate attempt to inflate the solobill.

Upon my waiter's recommendation I picked the rack of ribs over all-white roasted chicken. As he said (as have others on CH) they truly did all but collapse off the bone, and had a lovely texture. Sadly, they were practically tasteless, the sauce mediocre. And there was little indication of actual barbecueing, charing or grilling; my ample portion of ribs might've been boiled in a plastic bag for all I could tell.

I'm a big fan of mashed potatoes and had them substituted for the usual side of fries. This was a mistake, for the potatoes were also bland and tasteless. What's more, there was what appeared to be an extremely dense ration of green grass (well, maybe it was parsley, but parsley sans flavor) lining my mashed potatoes like rebar in a concrete parking garage. Again, this did not taste horribly; it simply had little discernable taste of any kind.

I'd hoped that the little corner of cornbread I ordered might salvage the experience a bit, but the piece brought to me cooled quickly, or was cold to begin with and possibly a leftover. It had none of the brilliant flavor I remembered from that fall afternoon when I first tried it.

Based on my one Thursday afternoon trial it's hard to imagine going back any time soon. I've heard good things about the roasted chicken, but then that didn't get me very far with the ribs. Maybe I'll give Bandera one more whirl but it will probably be a while.

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