Chow, Baby picked the wrong day to launch its lifestyle change (“diet” is so 1980s) of no longer eating six people’s worth of food at one sitting. Getting dressed for Sunday brunch at Blue Danube ($14; 2230 W. Park Row Dr., Pantego), Chow, Baby noticed that its old buffet-going pants, the ones with the plastic-lined pockets and no-longer-elastic waistband, had so many dining souvenirs – OK, “stains” – that they were well on their way to becoming a regional cuisine in their own right. Not fit for public display.
But this time, instead of running over to Wal-Mart for a replacement pair, Chow, Baby realized it could nudge itself into not overeating merely by wearing pants that are tight at the beginning of the meal. And all of its jeans already happen to be a size too small, so no new purchases required. Smart, huh?
No, idiotic. Blue Danube’s vegetables – roasted potatoes, bacon-doctored green beans, sautéed zucchini – were nice, but man, the meats were stellar: pork ribs whose meat fell off the bone on the way to your plate; housemade bratwurst with an enchanting nutmeg kick; the juiciest pork roast ever; schnitzel that held its crispy coating even on a steam plate. Only by giving up breathing did Chow, Baby manage to squeeze in second helpings plus a morsel of Godiva chocolate cake and wonderful bread pudding. Oh, for some plastic pockets for leftovers. Oh, for pants with room to grow.
Well, one thing about not plate-gazing throughout a meal, you have time to look around. Chow, Baby didn’t know Eastern European restaurants were allowed to be nearly kitsch-free, but Miroslav (owner/chef/gregarious charmer) and Laura (owner/server-manager/gracious charmer) Badonsky have managed to keep most of his heritage in the kitchen. The dining room is comfortable and sanely sized, with a bar that sells real beer in liter steins. But it has no cuckoo clocks or lederhosen, and certainly no chicken dances; the closest you’ll get to an accordion band is Johnny Red blues-rocking the house on New Year’s Eve. Oh, for some pants fit for dancing and eating schnitzel that also make Chow, Baby’s butt look good. Is that really too much to ask?
Here’s another fun way to not eat so much: Get a small portion. Chow, Baby thought up that idea all by itself, and it really works. The key is to get the good stuff, so you can convince yourself that you’d rather have one perfect chocolate truffle from Schakolad (106 E. 4th St.) than an entire king-size Hershey’s with almonds.
Unfortunately Schakolad was closed for the evening by the time Chow, Baby and the beloved got out of the house for our weekly downtown stroll, a pleasant walk that does double duty: It counts as “exercise” to Chow, Baby’s physician, Dr. Sugar Police (Chow, Baby leaves out the stopping-at-Schakolad part), and as “keeping an eye on my beat” when the boss wonders why so many Schakolad receipts each month. Well, how else is Chow, Baby going to learn that Thai Tina’s is doing great in its new location (600 Commerce St.), that Bob’s Steak and Chop House is a ghost town, that Marble Slab Creamery (312-A Houston St.) offers “kiddie” sizes (3.5 oz, $3.23)? And you know, a few bites of their double-dark chocolate ($3.23) is much more satisfying than an entire gallon of Blue Bell. It is. It is.
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