This should have been one of those heartwarming little tales in which Chow, Baby happens into a place where it clearly does not belong – awkward! – yet by the end of the evening is leading its new bosom buddies in a third round of “We Are Family.”

Alas, no. Chow, Baby mostly just sat there by itself at Throwbacks (2925 Race St.), all too conscious of its do-rag-free head, tattoo-free body, motto-free clothing, and lingering aroma d’import, even though it hasn’t ridden a sleek, fast, foreign-made motorcycle in ages. Throwbacks is the new café behind Liner’s, the Harley showroom and custom-bike shop in the quickly gentrifying Scenic Bluff neighborhood, so naturally it’s populated by chopper lovers. Chow, Baby, on the other hand, thinks – go on, say it – Harleys are silly. Chow, Baby was a Jet amid Sharks, and everybody there could smell it.

In point of fact, though, all the attitude in the room was emanating solely from Chow, Baby. In a space the size of a four-car garage, complete with concrete floor and painted-cinderblock walls, the dozen or so burly customers seemed laid-back and fraternally friendly. Overheard snippets of conversation included “Nice to meet you,” “Oh, I can help you out with that,” and “Would you like a water refill?” That last came from Chow, Baby’s highly decorated waitress, who also delivered a delicious grilled cheeseburger ($5.50), much larger than the quarter pound listed on the menu and juicy from its secret marinade (read: Worcestershire). Onion rings ($3.50) were the puffy-battered kind, piping hot yet not over-greasy. There’s not much else on the basic-bar-food menu, though the cook does some nice tricks with chicken tenders (sandwich $6.50); most of the clientele had a beer in one hand and a burger in the other, relishing both equally. Proving once again that when it comes to burger appreciation, we’re all brothers under the skin – inked or not.

Stranger in Paradise

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Chow, Baby finds it much easier to pass for macho at Pop’s Safari (2929 Morton St.): One need only lounge in a leather armchair with a cigar in one hand and a glass of port in the other while nodding approvingly at the stuffed bobcat. There’s always something going on at Pop’s – wine tastings, smokers, live jazz – but the biggest going-on is that Pam Pride, Cowtown’s legendary chef/singer/entrepreneur/bartender (oh, those martinis), is now heading up the kitchen. No more burgers topped with caviar, so Chow, Baby wolfed down teriyaki-sauced bacon-wrapped scallops ($11) and a big plate of grilled venison sausage ($11) with a super garlic-blue cheese dip. The new rib-eye sandwich ($12) held plenty of tender beef, but the overwhelming horseradish had Chow, Baby manfully hiding its tears. Blueberry pie ($5) with fresh-made whipped cream brought back the smiles.

The second-best addition to the menu is a dish labeled “Pop’s Specialty,” though Chow, Baby recalls enjoying these crab cakes ($22) with a very spicy mango-tomatillo salsa last year when Pam was cheffing at the Rock House in Aledo (except there they were called “Rock House Crab Cakes” and cost half as much). The best addition is a line at the bottom reading “Ask About Our Chef Specials.” Given Pam’s history of brilliant, last-minute kitchen inspirations, anybody who wouldn’t order this is a real wuss.

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