Friday, November 22, 2002

A Pasadena Restaurant Merits a Houston Press Review

Houston Press -- Dining -- Valdo's

Crazy for the parrillada loca: The grilled shrimp, chicken and fajita meat are a safe bet on a sometimes risky menu.

Valdo's Café in Pasadena resides in a converted Dairy Queen. A gaudy Mardi Gras mask hangs on the wall above the cash register (a souvenir of one of Hernandes's wild nights in New Orleans, no doubt). Aztec emblems pop up here and there. And along the top of the waist-high brick wall, there's an array of papier-mâché figures with elongated bodies and Spanish costumes in that mass-handcrafted style so common to gift shops on the Mexican border.

There are a lot of missed connections on Valdo's "culinary voyage around the world," but the kitchen is right at home with la cocina mexicana and fresh Gulf Coast seafood. Young chef Hernandes is trying to make a statement with the epic menu. Someday he'll learn to stick with what he does best. Luckily, most of his customers already have.

When you cut into a fried green tomato slice at Valdo's Café, you can't help mopping up some of the overlapping puddles of warm red gravy, chunky pico de gallo and cool sour cream beneath it. The batter-crusted tomatoes are not only amply sauced, they're also topped with lots of chopped parsley and squiggles of shredded mozzarella. The texture of hot, crunchy batter and tart tomato meat with this blend of sauces and toppings is terrific. Add some fresh-baked French bread on the side, and the huge appetizer plate is a meal in itself.

Valdo's Food

Valdo's Café
Details: 713-472-6067, and other locations.
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Fried green tomatoes: $5.25
Oysters Rockefeller: $7.95
Escargots: $6.95
Parrillada loca: $13.95
Deluxe fried seafood platter: $16.95
Whole Gulf flounder: $15.95
Fried Gulf shrimp: $11.95
Shrimp Dijon: $11.95 terrible
Where: 804 Preston Road, Pasadena

Valdo's misses some connections on its culinary journey around the world, but it's right at home with Gulf Coast seafood

No comments: