Ol’ Railroad Café in Rosenberg
Sophisticated Comfort Food In Rosenberg
Thanks to Facebook, I found Ol’ Railroad Café… a little café in Rosenberg that grabbed my interest. Interestingly, also, I hadn’t been in Rosenberg in over 30 years. It actually took three times as long to get to Highway 6 from my house as it took for the short (about 10 minutes) drive from Highway 6 to the restaurant. Well worth the short drive. The cafe’ is located in an historic building that houses room after room of antique dealers, as well as a theatre for live play performances. If you drive out for brunch on Sunday, it is It is worth going around noon, as the antique stores don’t open until 1:00 on Sunday.
Owner Daniel Ornelas and his business partner Chef Dillon Kao (formerly of Sri Lanka) opened the restaurant in March of last year, but it was only actually open for a short time during that period due to the fact that Daniel Ornelas broke his foot. To open the small café in a big way, Danny brought in an executive chef from Hollywood, California, Chef Rob Frias. In true hands-on manner, Danny acts as Rob’s chef’s sous chef in peak times. I watched the two of them work as one machine at lunch as they fed 60+ customers at lunch out of the very small open kitchen. It is seldom that (especially in Rosenberg) a restaurant is run by three chefs who all think alike. All three tend to be involved in menu development and there are usually at least two working together in the kitchen. The saying “Too many cooks spoil the soup.” definitely doesn’t apply here.
We started with a Loaded Baked Potato Soup which I noted was not the usual thick soup that seems like runny mashed potatoes. This soup was silky and had the consistency of a hot Vichyssoise. All of the components of the baked potato are there… bacon, chives, a dollop of sour cream and it gave up nice six-inch strings of cheddar cheese attached to my spoon.
Next was a take on the growingly popular South Carolina staple, Shrimp & Grits. Served on a bed of creamed corn grits with freshly grated Parmesan cheese were blackened shrimp and grilled Andouille sausage. Topped with bacon and parsley, it was delicious, creamy, and a unique “take” on this Southern comfort food that is showing up on menus all over the U.S., and all over Houston.
There are three burgers on the menu and all looked unique and delicious. We chose a Hobo Burger. Placed atop a hand-shaped (huge) beef patty is a perfectly cooked medium fried egg ready to puncture the yolk and allow it to run down the beef to the bun. It also has bacon and cheddar cheese on it to cover the main requisite components to a serious burger. This is topped with thin onion rings that are just the right thickness to allow the top bun to close.
Our second visit to this cafe’ was to try the brunch (starting at 10:00 a.m.). Light jazz and is the background for brunch at Oo’ Railroad Cafe’. The brunch menu is made up of some of the regular offerings, including Eggs Benedict, but Sunday is the only day that you can get Fried Chicken and Waffles… and it’s worth going on a Sunday to get it. Chicken and Waffles are served in several restaurants in Houston, but this version pays homage to the what the dish is really all about… maple syrup on the waffles AND the chicken. The rage for sweet syrup on fried chicken actually started in 1936 when the concept and first of 250 Chicken in the Rough locations/franchises offered fried chicken with honey to dip it in. At Ol’ Railroad cafe’, the chicken and waffles are skewered together like a sandwich that says “Please pour syrup all over me,” Classic Chicken and Waffles are served with fried chicken wings (not much meat), however, here, the fried chicken is two perfectly fried boneless breasts. Then, follow it all up with Bananas Foster.
Chef Frias will be conducting a once-a-month cooking class at the shop. It’s planned to be a lecture- style class with a 3-4 course meal paired with wines. He says that it will run the full gamut of the culinary experience from kitchen basics, from making stocks, pastas, and bread to more advanced techniques pulled from molecular gastronomy (which he says is his hidden style of cooking). Dates are not set for this yet.