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|August 6 - 12, 2009
• Foodie fiction
Try these delicious summer beach reads
by Dianna Marder
• The Dessert Diva
A local chef shares her sweet secrets
by Danette Randall
With love, from Texas
Lousiville’s Waterloo Ice House serves Lone Star slow cooking
by Clay Fong
In Texas, an ice house refers to an open-air establishment where the main order of business is the consumption of beer. Louisville’s Waterloo Ice House lives up to its Texan lineage by virtue of its tie to the Austin record store, live music and a menu featuring brewed beverages and barroom fare. On a recent Sunday evening, friend Kurt needed sustenance after a grueling 24-hour medical residency shift, and the Waterloo’s comforting selections were just the huckleberry. Intriguing choices included a three-cheese mac and cheese and a Philly by way of Texas cheese-steak sandwich spiced up with jalapeños.
Bypassing the not-too-seedy, not-too-upscale classic bar interior, we opted for a sidewalk table overlooking placid Main Street.
During our meal, folks stood in the middle of the street chatting, and I couldn’t help but think similar attempts at conversation on Boulder’s Broadway would elicit a fatal result. Our unobtrusive, but reasonably effective (we’ll get to bacon incident momentarily) server also heightened the sense of tranquility.
Our opening gambit was a $6.50 half order of nachos. The Waterloo’s credible take on this classic snack consisted of crisp and thin multicolored tortilla chips, salsa, acceptable-but-won’t-beat-homemade guacamole and ample tangy cheddar. The only fault was that the lettuce resembled large salad leaves more than the expected matchstick-sized strips. Nevertheless, this half portion didn’t disappoint.
My main course was a pricey but tasty $14.50 buffalo burger piled with Swiss cheese, sautéed onions, mushrooms, jalapeños and bacon — the latter which I didn’t order. “You’re never one to refuse bacon,” said Kurt, and I quietly nodded in agreement, choosing not to bring this porcine error to our server’s attention. As expected, the buffalo had a fuller flavor than beef, but without the greasiness. Happily, the bacon took care of that deficit, and jalapeños and cheese added both spice and a creamy accent. Although the golden bun was aesthetically pleasing, it quickly disintegrated from the buffalo’s ample juices. Lastly, the $1 upcharge for the onion rings was well worth it, as these sides had been prepared in a first-rate manner, hot with a paper-thin crisp batter encasing slightly caramelized onions.
We couldn’t say the same about the sweet potato fries siding Kurt’s $14 BBQ pork shoulder plate. These were unpleasantly limp and didn’t equal the other side dish, sweet and tender baked beans. The barbecue, available only on weekends, was one of the better Colorado examples, with just the right balance of smoke and salt. Slow-cooking ensured the shoulder was tender and moist, the beneficiary of proper slow-cooking that enabled the fat to baste the meat. Kurt’s need for nourishment was well met, especially since he had enough leftovers for another meal.
While the food at the Waterloo was fine, I struggle a bit with the prices. Sure, the beef burger clocks in at the reasonable $10 range, and $14 for a generously portioned barbecue plate isn’t bad at all. But as much as I enjoyed my buffalo burger, $14.50 seemed expensive, even with a mess of toppings. I would have felt better had I dined during a live music performance, as I could rationalize that part of my tab was paying for entertainment. Perhaps dinner and a show are the best way to get maximum value out of the otherwise satisfying Waterloo.
Clay’s obscurity corner
The ice house
Starting in the mid-1800s, central European immigrants flocked to the Texas Hill Country to start a new life in America. Germans made up the bulk of these newcomers, founding communities like New Braunfels and introducing the accordion that eventually found a home in Tejano music. They also contributed to the local brewing scene. San Antonio’s Pearl Beer was originally formulated in Germany at the Kaiser-Beck Brewery. Local beers such as Pearl were often sold out of former ice storage facilities that had been converted into bars, and hence “ice house” became synonymous with a place to enjoy a cool one.
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