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Historic Houston Restaurants


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That's him. Last time I was around the library on Bellfort it was getting a face lift.

Dad played with The Houston Buffs, St. Louis Browns (44 World Series-he's only one of two still alive from that team!), and the Senators, and Gus played from 1928-1945 with St. Louis, Cubs, NY Giants, Brooklyn, and Philly, and was in 5 World Series.

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I believe that would be La Tour d'Argent. The Rainbow Lodge moved to the same location.

That's it! I knew someone here would know it. I had not been back in that area for some time and a few weeks ago I found myself driving down T.C.Jester towards 610. I saw the Rainbow Lodge and thought that the place looked a bit familiar but honestly, I thought La Tour d'Argent was more "off the road".

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My family and I used to eat at a place called Bill Williams. I think it was on OST and also a place called Bill Bennets in downtown Houston. I guess they had a thing for Bill places. I myself liked nothing better than a cheese burger from Reddigs Ice Cream Shop on Wayside. Or the shrimp basket from Princes on Wayside.

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My family and I used to eat at a place called Bill Williams. I think it was on OST and also a place called Bill Bennets in downtown Houston. I guess they had a thing for Bill places. I myself liked nothing better than a cheese burger from Reddigs Ice Cream Shop on Wayside. Or the shrimp basket from Princes on Wayside.

Look around - there are some pictures on HAIF of Bill Williams on both Main and OST, and I think Reddigs as well.

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The Green Parrot in Houston was owned and run by Vera Fredericks and her sister. When the extension for 59 went in, they lost the property. They were famous for their congelled pear salad, french dressing and fried chicken. They sold the recipes to a Houston restauranteur who opened it up again out on Bellaire Blvd as well as the KC and St. Louis locations. This, too, closed. Ms Fredericks sister started doing the menu again in the late 70s twice a week at the restaurant in the River Oaks. A true Houston institution along with the Confederate House--whose menu was developed by Helen Corbett who went on to the Zodiac Room in Dallas at N-M, as well as Herman Brenner's steakhouse which is still in existence? Does anyone remember Pier 21 and Kapan's?

Many years ago my grandfather talked about a restaurant called the San Jacinto Inn (I think that what it was called). He said that they had big meals and was very popular. If I'm right about the name, is that restaurant still around?

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I went to a restaurant in Kemah in 1969, but I don't remember the name. It might have had the word captain or club in the name, but I just can't think of it. Does anyone know?

Could it have been Captain Wicks. It is a buffet type seafood place and is still in operation on the Seabrook side of the channel.

joe

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Many years ago my grandfather talked about a restaurant called the San Jacinto Inn (I think that what it was called). He said that they had big meals and was very popular. If I'm right about the name, is that restaurant still around?

No unfortunatly the San Jacinto Inn is long gone. It was located right next to the Battleship Texas across the road from the San Jacinto monument. They were a family style resturant that brought out plates of food as you requested them and would keep bringing it till you were full. They had fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried chicken, the best biscuits in the world and most of the time straberry shortcake for dessert. It was one price for the meal and as I said you ate till you were full. My family loved that place and were sad to see it close.

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Yep, Albert Gee owned the Poly-Asian and sold it to a Mr Chin. There's some discussion about it in the '50s Medcenter topic. Gee also owned another restaurant called Ding How that was on Main north of Holcombe. Oddly enough, there is an Albert Gee restaurant knick-knack in the display case at Hunan Village on Shepherd, so I think that might be connected with his family.

That is the sight of another long gone restaurant Alfies Fish and Chips.

joe

Edited by texianjoe
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No unfortunatly the San Jacinto Inn is long gone. It was located right next to the Battleship Texas across the road from the San Jacinto monument. They were a family style resturant that brought out plates of food as you requested them and would keep bringing it till you were full. They had fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried chicken, the best biscuits in the world and most of the time straberry shortcake for dessert. It was one price for the meal and as I said you ate till you were full. My family loved that place and were sad to see it close.

The San Jacinto Inn is gone but the Monument Inn has the same all you can eat deal. Look about half way down the menu.

Monument Inn

joe

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i have been meaning to go to the monument inn - when did the san jacinto inn close?

it's funny how on the menu, under "lighter fare," there's a picture of a cheeseburger :D

I don't remember exactly but its been quit a few years. The old Monument Inn was next to the battleship, it burnt down. The new Monument in is next to the ferry landing where the old San Jacinto Inn used to be. There are tables next to a row of windows that face the channel, its a fun view. They take a beating when I go on the raw oysters alone.

joe

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i have been meaning to go to the monument inn - when did the san jacinto inn close?

it's funny how on the menu, under "lighter fare," there's a picture of a cheeseburger :D

San Jacinto must have closed in very early 80's. Our homeroom teacher took our whole graduating class "79" to have dinner there as a last farewell. I am glad I took my "Pronto" instamatic camera and have great clear photos of us horsing around on the long balcony and in front with the place in the background. Unfortunately shortly after our visit it burned to the ground.

Then later came the Monument Inn if memory serves well. The seafood was out of this world! Yummy! :D

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That was pretty much the first food court in a mall in Houston as far as I know. It was put in when they put the second floor on the mall -- sometime in the mid 70s. The entire food court was called "Good Time Charlie's". And yes, one of the restarants was Chelsea Street Pub which was a sort of a bar/appetizer type of place. I'm pretty sure they had live music at the beginning.

There was also a very nice restaurant up there, I can't remember the name of it. It was a reservations only/maitre d' type place -- very hoity toity and high $. It lasted about 5 minutes.

Oh, and you might want to check out this thread which has a ton of memories of long lost houston restaurants.

Houston Restaurants No Longer Here

Does anyone remember when someone ordered this huge organ and had it assembled at the Sharpstown food court? I can still almost see it in my mind. It was very colorful, as I recall. When I say huge, I mean it was probably the size of a goodsized room.

Jeanne

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Not sure if any one has asked about Gaido's Seafood on South Main. I can swear we used to drive past it everytime we would go to the McClendon Triple Theater.

Gaido's had that giant shrimp packing 2 pistols and a cowboy hat right? There must be a photo of it somewhere, if someone has can you please post? and what were the cross streets?

It was so cool I always wanted to take it home. Only in Texas!

Heh, not only in Texas. We have one in Louisiana but it's a crawfish. Can't remember where it is though. I see it on commercials occasionally. Will take notice next time.

Jeanne (Mystkitty)

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That wasnt Gaidos . It was Christie's . it closed in the late 90's . I think the big shrimp was auctioned off .

Christie's closed? Really sorry to hear that. Was the best place to fine non-painfully hot fried seafood back in the day. My ex and I went every time one of use was paid. They made the best seafood gumbo. They'd pour it in a cup and must have dropped a raw oyster into the hot liquid right before it was served cause it was perfectly cooked by the time it got to us. Never overcooked, which is a horrible thing to do to a creature that died so we could eat it.

The sad thing is that now I'm back in La. after 20 years in Houston, there's still no place in the town I live in to get great fried seafood and won't burn you down. I have a very tender tongue and if I ever met Paul Prudhomme (reported to have started this hot-sauce-on-anything-makes-it-Cajum fad) I'd kill him.

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Christie's closed? Really sorry to hear that. Was the best place to fine non-painfully hot fried seafood back in the day. My ex and I went every time one of use was paid. They made the best seafood gumbo. They'd pour it in a cup and must have dropped a raw oyster into the hot liquid right before it was served cause it was perfectly cooked by the time it got to us. Never overcooked, which is a horrible thing to do to a creature that died so we could eat it.

The sad thing is that now I'm back in La. after 20 years in Houston, there's still no place in the town I live in to get great fried seafood and won't burn you down. I have a very tender tongue and if I ever met Paul Prudhomme (reported to have started this hot-sauce-on-anything-makes-it-Cajum fad) I'd kill him.

Christie's on the southside closed. The Christie's on Westheimer is still open.

joe

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Tokyo Gardens-Is this place still there? I went to many a prom/homecoming/high school dinner here( 1977).

Frank

I remember this restaurant quite well. It was on Westheimer just inside the Loop across from what is now the Red Lion hotel. Unfortunately, it's been gone for at least 10 years - there is now an inexpensive chain hotel there. I remember going to a 2nd grade birthday there and sitting on those cushions to eat, crossing the bridge over the pond, and then doing a pinata -lol. I went to 2nd Baptist at that time and they always had "extravagant" kid birthday parties. I do remember it well though - I think I went one other time years later.

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Heh, not only in Texas. We have one in Louisiana but it's a crawfish. Can't remember where it is though. I see it on commercials occasionally. Will take notice next time.

Jeanne (Mystkitty)

I remember going to gaidos on South Main not only to eat but one time we had to go pick my brother up as he had gotten very ill . We asked him exactly where he was and he said he was throwing up under the big six gun toting shrimp. What a lovely adventure.

Edited by EastEnd Susan
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Several from long ago in my childhood when we used to come to Houston to see my grandparents:

-Kapan's on South Main at Kirby (where the Eckerd's is now), our usual Sunday after church lunch place - good steaks and seafood, and those excellent crab ball appetizers that the guy in the white suit used to bring around to all the tables

-Angelo's, another long gone seafood restuarant

-The Strawberry Patch on Westheimer, the Pappas family's country/home cooking concept (Pappas Bros. Steakhouse is there now)

-Tokyo Gardens, the first place I ever had Japanese

Do any of you remember Sonny Looks Steak House? There was one on S. Main near the S. Loop and one on Westheimer in the Briargrove shopping center. I remember on weekends they hired a guy to dress in an armored knights suit and sit on a white horse. I thought that had to be the coolest job to have.

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I remember on weekends they hired a guy to dress in an armored knights suit and sit on a white horse. I thought that had to be the coolest job to have.

It would be a cool job but not in our summer heat, wow! and real tough when time to go to the restroom.

Wonder if anyone has already mentioned The Old San Francisco Steak House? The pretty girl would get on a swing and hang around over head as you had dinner.

I always heard of this but was too teenage and hip (at least in my head) to check it out.

Was on Katy Frwy??? anyone have a photo???

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It would be a cool job but not in our summer heat, wow! and real tough when time to go to the restroom.

Wonder if anyone has already mentioned The Old San Francisco Steak House? The pretty girl would get on a swing and hang around over head as you had dinner.

I always heard of this but was too teenage and hip (at least in my head) to check it out.

Was on Katy Frwy??? anyone have a photo???

it was out on westheimer past the galleria. and i can confirm the bell

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Does anyone remember The Happy Buddha on lower Westheimer? They did the chop everything up at the table thing like Benihana. There was a courtyard that had a fake thunderstorm (complete with water, thunder, and lightning) about every thirty minutes? The place burned numerous times in the early to mid 80's. When I was little, I wanted to have my 16th birthday party there. It wasn't really a place for kids, though.

Also, does anyone remember how many Hamburgers by Gourmet there were in Houston? They were amazing. The #10 and some onion rings really hit the spot. I think they had locations in Austin, too. The last one was on Alabama next to The University of St Thomas. They tore it down to build a chapel. I'd rather still have HBG.

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Does anyone remember The Happy Buddha on lower Westheimer? They did the chop everything up at the table thing like Benihana. There was a courtyard that had a fake thunderstorm (complete with water, thunder, and lightning) about every thirty minutes? The place burned numerous times in the early to mid 80's. When I was little, I wanted to have my 16th birthday party there. It wasn't really a place for kids, though.

Another notable feature was the huge, gold painted concrete Budda which sat between the building and the sidewalk. Due to the placement of his hands, in profile he appeared to be, shall we say, very happy. :D

Somewhere, I have a picture taken after the last time the restaurant burned. Some of the gold paint had eroded and left what looked like tears streaming down his face; he didn't look so happy any more.

That site is currently occupied by Indika. The adjacent parking lot is the former site of the Westheimer Mini-Mall, home of Wilde-n-Stein bookstore.

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Does anyone remember The Happy Buddha on lower Westheimer? They did the chop everything up at the table thing like Benihana. There was a courtyard that had a fake thunderstorm (complete with water, thunder, and lightning) about every thirty minutes? The place burned numerous times in the early to mid 80's. When I was little, I wanted to have my 16th birthday party there. It wasn't really a place for kids, though.

Also, does anyone remember how many Hamburgers by Gourmet there were in Houston? They were amazing. The #10 and some onion rings really hit the spot. I think they had locations in Austin, too. The last one was on Alabama next to The University of St Thomas. They tore it down to build a chapel. I'd rather still have HBG.

I LOVED hamburgers by gourmet!!!!!!! I don't know how many there were, but there was one in Greenway Plaza, and one on Richmond. Not too long ago, there was one on Park Place, it lasted about 5 minutes!

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I LOVED hamburgers by gourmet!!!!!!! .....

Not too long ago, there was one on Park Place, it lasted about 5 minutes!

Was it in the little green and yellow house up near Poplar St?

It was the Park Place Grill for a fair number of years (i think they closed in '02??)

They had really good burgers too.

Cute little place. Always packed at lunch.

Edited by gnu
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Was it in the little green and yellow house up near Poplar St?

It was the Park Place Grill for a fair number of years (i think they closed in '02??)

They had really good burgers too.

Cute little place. Always packed at lunch.

Before it was the Park Place Grill it was the Burgerhaus for a long time. They had the best burgers. It shut down reopened as the Park Place Grill but it was never the same.

joe

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Before it was the Park Place Grill it was the Burgerhaus for a long time. They had the best burgers. It shut down reopened as the Park Place Grill but it was never the same.

joe

ooops! yeah...you're right..i forgot about that. seems like it was burgerhaus, then new owners that kept the burgerhaus name, and then it was park place grill. the first burgerhaus incarnation was the best

Edited by gnu
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sizzler's coming back -

http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/stories...63&hbx=e_du

Two veteran Houston restaurant groups plan to open 10 franchised steakhouse locations over the next several years.

The new restaurants will follow the chain's new prototype and revamped menu. While Sizzler continues to use a pay-first system, the restaurant's new design eliminates the single ordering line local diners might remember.

Edited by sevfiv
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Still missing:

Sunset Tea Room

DISH

Driscoll Street Cafe

The Spud-U-Like

Cookies, Goodies, and More

Empanada House

the original La Strada

Frenchy's on Shepherd

Sabine

Armandos

Quilted Toque

Sierra

The Magic Pan Crepery

and many more

Don't forget about Sonny Looks, Gaido's and Angelo's on 610 & S. Main, Howard Johnson's on Bellaire at the railroad tracks (killer ice cream!,) the Mariner on Westheimer and for bars...Dome Shadows and Napoleon's Retreat. How bout Bill Williams in the Med Center?

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Don't forget about Sonny Looks, Gaido's and Angelo's on 610 & S. Main, Howard Johnson's on Bellaire at the railroad tracks (killer ice cream!,) the Mariner on Westheimer and for bars...Dome Shadows and Napoleon's Retreat. How bout Bill Williams in the Med Center?

Does anyone remember Ari's Grenouille and Los Troncos on Westheimer, West of Montrose?

They were good places to go to in the 60's.......I believe Ari's survived for quite awhile, but Los Troncos burned down at some point.

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I don't post a lot, but this is one of my favorite forums. Having a dad for a city councilman for 30 years, I got to hit a lot of Houston's best (not necessarily expensive) restaurants with him and my family, and I always love it when we get to recall some of the great places to eat in Houston:

Kaphan's(one of the first restaurants to integrate, according to my father). Pete Tomac and George(the host, Greek gentleman, if I remember right) always greeted us on Sunday's, and had the best, old school waiters and waitresses, not to mention, some of dad's(and others) sports memorabilia in the front.

Chesterfield's-this was(is?) in the basement of the Bank One(?), and was run by Gus Kanakis, I believe, and had excellent lamb shanks-does anyone remember it?

Hickory Stick-on Winkler near Gulfgate. Another after-church stop.

Guy's Meat Market-always went with dad to get meat & bbq-is it still around?

Uncle John's Pancake House-was on OST, I think.

Rudy's-owned by Rudy and Joe Lucia, and it was across the street from the original Tony's on Post Oak, and had better Lobster Bisque than Tony's, imo.

Joe Matranga's-on Irvington. Best southern Italian in town. Joe is still kicking at St. Dominic's. He used to give away jars of his homemade pasta sauce at Christmas.

Polynesian- Albert Gee's place if I remember right, and perhaps the first Asian food of any kind for me, 5-6 yrs old.

Bobo's-another Chinese restaurant owned by on of dad's friends, Bobo Lang. It was out Westheimer, maybe around Gessner?

I don't think we ever looked at a menu here-he would just start bringing stuff out.

Tokyo Gardens-Is this place still there? I went to many a prom/homecoming/high school dinner here( 1977).

Monterrey House-probably pretty crappy when compared to today's Tex-Mex, but at least it got me hooked on Tex-Mex. I still have not seen the brown sugar candy that was at the bottom of the chip basket anywhere as good. I think they evolved into Monterrey's for a while, but, hopefully, they are gone for good.

Wyatt's Cafeteria-breaded veal cutlet w/brown gravy. No salad, thanks. (Remember those cool conveyor belts that took away the dirty dishes?)

I'm sure I've got more, but that's all for now!

Frank

I think Chesterfields is still there, under the 1100 Lamar building. Tokyo Gardens has been torn down.

Several people have mentioned the brown sugar candy from Monterrey House.

Does anyone remember the name of the "upscale" Chinese place on Post Oak north of Westheimer (not Hunan). Uncle Tai's maybe?

Hunan had another restaurant, cheaper but same menu, on Westheimer at Voss. That place would be packed.

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Napoleon Square had its Grand Opening in the early 1960's to a huge fanfare. Highly touted as the place to be, the Farb's had a glitzy open to all party, outside in freezing winter weather. Why did we go and shiver? The main attraction was Al Hirt and he was terrific. The crowd was extremely large, hard to imagine it was all to simply to get occupants for apartments.

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Does anyone remember the name of the "upscale" Chinese place on Post Oak north of Westheimer (not Hunan). Uncle Tai's maybe?

I suspect you're thinking of a different restaurant, but this made me think of Ta Hua, which used to be in the strip center on the east side of Post Oak just north of Westheimer (the one anchored by Container Store on one end and Oshman's superstore on the other). Ta Hua wasn't exactly upscale, but they had dependably good Americanized Chinese food, and I have many fond memories of it as my wife and I used to be semi-frequent diners there when we were first dating. They moved to a much larger location way out on Memorial a few years ago. We went there once, but it was simply too far to drive when there are plenty of other Chinese restaurants that are much closer, and the new location didn't have the funky charm of the old one, which always seemed to be fairly dark and a bit cramped inside.

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Does anyone remember Ari's Grenouille and Los Troncos on Westheimer, West of Montrose?

They were good places to go to in the 60's.......I believe Ari's survived for quite awhile, but Los Troncos burned down at some point.

Los Troncos - where Westheimer and California meet, where Da Marco is now:

4bonlfc.jpg

43nf1nr.jpg

Ari's was in this old residence @ Westheimer @ Mandell:

49hrqdc.jpg

I lived just down the street in the early 70s and ate at Ari's many times; I learned to love escargot but never tried the frog legs. I read somewhere that Ari's owner had run a French restaurant at HemisFair 68 in San Antonio, wanted to stay in the US so moved to Houston and opened the restaurant ca. 1969. It was sometimes said to have been Houston's first sidewalk cafe (there were umbrella covered tables and chairs practically out to the curb) but I doubt that was a valid claim. I never ate at Los Troncos. Both were still there when I moved out of the neighborhood ca. 1974.

By the late 70s, Ari's had moved out on Memorial near Dairy Ashford. I ate there just once, ca. 1980. It had little of the charm of the original and I had lost interest in French cuisine and never went back.

A Houston Post clipping:

30c3txt.jpg

The 4 Bill Williams: S. Main @ Holcombe, OST @ MacGregor, just north of Richmond on 59, and .......?

Does anyone remember the name of the "upscale" Chinese place on Post Oak north of Westheimer (not Hunan). Uncle Tai's maybe?

The name rings a faint bell. I do think it had 'uncle' in the name. Szechuan as I remember it. Only went once, ca. 1979, on the company dollar.

Edited by brucesw
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The 4 Bill Williams: S. Main @ Holcombe, OST @ MacGregor, just north of Richmond on 59, and .......?

Actually, the S. Main Bill Williams was on the NE corner of S. Main and Dryden... just south of the University Blvd intersection with S. Main. Ernie Coker's Ye Olde College Inn was Bill Williams' neighbor on the north side of Bill's place. Bill also had a coffee shop downtown on Milam or Travis and several blocks south of Foley's.

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mkultra, it wasn't Ta Hua I was thinking of, but I do remember that place. Your description of "Americanized Chinese food" was right on the money - nothing great, but dependable.

They had an item on the menu which we used to always order that I've never seen anywhere else - Green Onion Pancake. It wasn't a pancake in the Western sense, more like a cross between a crepe and a thick tortilla, with chopped scallions cooked into it. It was much better than I'm probably making it sound.

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They had an item on the menu which we used to always order that I've never seen anywhere else - Green Onion Pancake. It wasn't a pancake in the Western sense, more like a cross between a crepe and a thick tortilla, with chopped scallions cooked into it. It was much better than I'm probably making it sound.

I've had that in other places, although I can't remember if I had it there. It is served with a plum sauce.

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I've had that in other places, although I can't remember if I had it there. It is served with a plum sauce.

Sounds like my great grandmas potato patties. She made these with leftover mashed potatoes mixed with egg and green onions and flattened it out like a pancake and fried it in bacon grease. I feel my arteries hardening at the thought.

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