I've been back in SA for almost five months, and my food searches have been for the comfort food I grew up with as a kid: CFS, BBQ, and tex-mex. I've been pretty happy with the Q and tex-mex hunt throughout central and south Texas. But the CFS hunt has been pretty disappointing. I posted a generally poor review of Good Time Charlie's (GTC) a while back, and have been looking for the elusive kick-ass CFS of my earlier years.
So, I was at the downtown library today, browsing books in the 650.1 area (resumes and cover letters) in my first job search in more than 20 years. I had passed Lulu's on the way to the library, so I decided to check out the CFS. Like GTC, Lulu advertises the best CFS. In Lulu's case, the best as voted by local reader surveys.
I'll cut the review short, since there's no sense wasting my time and your's by droning about service (good) and setting (typical diner). I ordered the 6.95 lunch special of the CFS with two sides. I chose the green beans and fried okra. The plate that arrived had a piece of CFS about the size of the plate, covered in a good-looking cream gravy, with off-color green beans and golden brown fried okra. I'm not a dietitian, and I have no reason to watch my calorie intake, but I'd venture that I had about 2,400 calories sitting in front of me...and that does not include the loaf-sized biscuit served on the side.
Although the CFS was a beautiful thing to behold on the plate, one cut into the steak and the wind was sucked out of my hopeful sails. Even with a serrated knife, the steak was just sinewy and tough as a combat boot, with a full-on taste of liver. In a few words, this CFS stood out for how utterly pathetic it was. The green beans had a canned taste, and were way past the time they should have been served to a paying public. The fried okra was standard fried okra, perhaps Cisco supplied; no complaints.
The only bright spot on the whole plate? The cream gravy. Folks, Lulu's knows how to do at least one thing right, and that's the gravy. Creamy, no lumps, generous amount of pepper, no overwhelming sense of sugar (like I found at GTC) and a perfect color. I'd be hard-pressed to find another cream gravy in this area that is as good.
I'll never go back. I'd never recommend. But there's one thing that is becoming clear to me on my return to this great little city (almost) lost in time, my idea of acceptable/good/great food does not jive with local reader polls on many categories.
I have a review of a good comfort food spot on WW White Road, but for the life of me, I can't remember the name. I'll go grab another lunch there tomorrow, and report back (but I'll be dreaming of jalapeno fried chicken and liver and onions tonight).