Hugs & Donuts, Houston Heights – Restaurant Review

Hugs & Donuts, Houston Heights – Restaurant Review

    First came cupcakes, next up it was macarons, now I feel the trend is for donuts. Or maybe I’m just becoming a little obsessed?  I can’t say that donuts were a major food group for me when I lived in London. But Houston made all that change. While Shipley’s is the chief player in this market, there are several small independents that more than rival Shipley’s for taste and variety.

     

    After reading an assortment of reviews, both good and not so encouraging, I thought I would stop by Hugs and Donuts and try the goods for myself.

     

    Background

     

    Chef Matt Opaleski and his partner Jason Hill began their culinary adventure as the owners of the food truck H-Town Streats. In 2015, they decided they liked the idea of a more permanent existence and so opened Hugs and Donuts. But this is not your everyday donut experience. The duo say they make ‘heartisan’ donuts with exotic flavors that you don’t find in other establishments. With constantly changing flavors the pair seem to be continuing to push the envelope. Popular inventions include the lemon meringue pie donut and the maple bacon, yup bacon on a donut.

     

    “Our multiple award-winning food geniuses have teamed up to bring you donuts so outrageous and filled with deliciousness that you’ll want to hug them. Fresh ingredients… house made fillings. From the website

    What’s on the menu?

     

    Donuts, Kolaches, Katz Coffee, and draft Milk!  The first thing I noticed was the large size of many of the donuts. That, and the variety of colors on display. Somewhat lost in thought as to where to begin I was happy that the super friendly server put me out of my misery and explained more about some of the most popular flavors.

     

    I decided that a box of 6 was needed. My selection included a Milk and Cookies, Insomnia, Green Tea, Maple Bacon, Biscoff Cookie Butter, and a Chocolate Toffee Latte. Doesn’t your mouth just water when reading the names of these delicious donuts?

     

    Texture wise, I would say that most of the donuts are a mix between the heavier yeasty donuts on offer at Shipley’s and the aerated lighter style of donut served up at Krispy Kreme. Hands down the maple bacon was my favorite. Bacon on a donut sounded a little strange to me. But somewhat like chocolate pretzels with the combination of sweet and salty, the pairing is so so good.

    Vegetarian friendly

     

    On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday’s you can find vegan donuts. But be warned they sell out quickly. Check out the app available to download from their website to discover what flavors they are making and to preorder. It’s not uncommon to see a line forming outside early in the mornings with patrons that have already discovered this little gem.

     

    Vegetarians can also enjoy Kolaches with a variety of fillings that often change up. Spinach artichoke, buffalo cauliflower, fig and brie topped with arugula and almonds and veggie chili

     

    I will certainly be a return customer as kolaches come a close second to donuts in my new-found love for all the great Houston eats.

     

    The Fact Sheet

     

    Neighborhood: Houston Heights

    Address: 1901 N Shepherd #4, Houston TX 77008

    Phone: 713 485 6443

    Opening Hours: Sunday through Thursday 7am-5pm, Friday & Saturday 7am-9pm (or until they run out of goodies)

     

    Hugs & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

     

     

     

     

     

     

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      Hotel Review: The James Hotel, Chicago

      Hotel Review: The James Hotel, Chicago

        I recently spent a glorious week in one of my favorite US cities, Chicago. My youngest daughter just graduated from Columbia and I’m still in shock that my last baby is finished with school. To celebrate I planned a week-long party. As my other daughters were also flying in to enjoy the fun I thought I would book an Airbnb to give us more flexibility.  Well that didn’t turnout so great. I wont bore you with the details. I think I’ve just concluded that I love the little luxuries you get with a hotel stay over ‘roughing’ it as someone else’s abode.

         

        After one night at the Airbnb we handed the keys to our daughters and my husband and I booked ourselves into The James Hotel. I have walked past this hotel on many previous visits and always liked the look of the modern contemporary style. With a hectic schedule already planned I don’t think we took full advantage of the many facilities that this hotel offers. But let me share with you what we did enjoy.

         

        Location

         

        The James Hotel is a couple of blocks away from the Magnificent Mile. Located on the corner of Rush and Ontario in the River North district. The 297-room luxury boutique hotel is an ideal base for exploring the many downtown attractions including the parks and museums.

         

        “The James Hotels are for travelers in pursuit of local immersion, inspiration and cultural adventure—for a creative set seeking authenticity and connection, to themselves and others. Website

        The James Hotel, Chicago

        Amenities

         

        High on my husband’s wish list when selecting hotels is the gym. The sizeable 2500 sq ft space was open 24/7. The gym offered a variety of cardiovascular machines all fitted with individual tv sets. There were also quite a good variety of strength training equipment.  Plus lots of mirrors to admire yourself as you worked out.

         

        Other amenities include a spa, Primehouse steak restaurant, The Patio alfresco dining, the lobby bar, and various meeting rooms to accommodate a variety of group sizes.

        The James Hotel, Chicago

        The Rooms

         

        High on my wish list is a comfortable bed with crisp white sheets. As this was somewhat of a last-minute booking I didn’t really have too many options on the type of room we could book.  However, the hotel does have quite a good variety to select from. Our guestroom was a good size, around 420 sq ft, with a separate seating area although the bathroom was a little on the tiny side.

         

        I loved the fact that this hotel has really thought out what a visitor might need.  For example, usb ports and outlets right next to the bed. How many times have you stayed at a hotel and needed to search for an outlet to charge your phone overnight that is even remotely close to your bed (without needing to unplug a light of clock)?

         

        The James Hotel also offers studios, lofts, one bedroom apartments and penthouse lofts with up to 1400 sq ft of space available so quite a varied selection considering the size of the hotel.

         

        My highlights were the complimentary Wi-Fi as I hate getting charged a daily supplement for this everyday service. I really liked that the bathroom amenities were full-sized refillable containers rather than the wasteful mini sizes. I also thought the room offered a few tech gadgets that were fun to play with such as the KEYPR tablet next to the bed where you could order in room dining or request housekeeping or stream a movie.

         

        The Verdict for The James Hotel, Chicago

         

        We found all the staff we met super friendly and helpful which is always a pleasant experience. The décor of the hotel is completely our style so we felt very much at home. The location could not be more perfect for our needs. So, other than a slightly bigger bathroom, I would say this get a 5star rating from us.

         

        The Fact Sheet

         

        Address: 55 Ontario, Chicago IL 60611

        Phone: 312 337 1000

        Website: http://www.jameshotels.com

          Dough New York – The Best Donuts in the World?

            A visit to New York always seems to turn into a food overload for me as there are just so many great places that I must try. On my recent trip, my daughter Amy told me about this amazing doughnut shop that everyone was raving about so of course we just had to indulge and boy was it good. Take a look, and please don’t judge lol….

             

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            Westin Hotel Chicago

            Dough Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

              Drone Footage – London Canary Wharf

                After our first failed attempt at capturing some drone footage, I have a mini success to share with you today. Of course there is tons to learn but I’m so happy that we have begun to get something recognizeable and would welcome any comments and tips on how to make the most of the drone. Take a look and please follow along on this journey as we have plenty of future adventures to share.

                 

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                Review of Sunborn luxury yacht hotel

                 

                  The amazing Dabbawalas of Mumbai

                    There are a few places and events that visitors to Mumbai should add to their itinerary. To really get a feel for Mumbai I suggest you take a closer look at the Dabbawalas, also known as the lunchbox men or Tiffin men. At the basic level the Dabbawalas are food delivery men but dig a bit deeper and you realize there is so much more to learn from their organization. The Dabbawalas have been featurerd in numerous articles across the globe due to their extraordinarily high level of perfection. As you will see, the men are quite used to tourists watching and recording their daily actions.

                     

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                      A Moveable Feast, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                      A Moveable Feast, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                        When rain stopped my chance of playing tennis and there was no one else at home to keep me company (bar my puppies) I thought I would go and find a healthy breakfast option to entertain myself. What could be healthier than going to a local health food shop that also has a restaurant?

                         

                        Background

                         

                        “The Most Famous Health Food Store in Texas” – A Moveable Feast is an independent, family owned natural café and health food store that serves the community by specializing in top quality natural food products.  A large and loyal clientele shop at A Moveable Feast because they have confidence in the integrity of the product selection and personalized service

                         

                        I have visited this restaurant a few times over the many years that I have lived in this neighborhood. The sign on the entry door still makes me smile.

                        Décor

                         

                        With its tiled floor, abundance of wood, metal accents, and exposed industrial style ceiling for some reason it makes me feel like I’m in a little Colorado ski town. Seating options consisted of booths, various sized tables and chairs, and a huge wooden table that could seat a very large group. With its wifi, it makes it a great option for those wishing to do a little work while dining or maybe even a location for a book club meeting.

                         

                        There is a central island with glasses, flatware, and an abundance of hot sauces so that diners can help themselves to supplies. Each table has napkins and other basic supplies.

                         

                        A small outdoor courtyard also offers a few tables for those that don’t mind braving the Houston weather. The scenery isn’t that great as it overlooks the carpark but it is a little hidden behind railings and some greenery.

                        Food

                         

                        This is a self-service restaurant. You place your order at the main counter and receive an electronic buzzer. The flashing lights and loud noise the buzzer makes informs you when your food is on the counter for collection.

                         

                        The menu has vegetarian and vegan options but with meat substitute items so that any carnivores don’t feel left out. The restaurant boasts that they purify all the water used for cooking and drinking. All dishes are prepared in the healthiest way possible with nothing fried. Organic produce is featured whenever available.

                         

                        The menu is huge so there really should be something to please everyone. I visited for breakfast and tried the breakfast enchiladas at $7.99. The large plate full to overflowing with food is certainly a Texas-sized portion. Scrambled egg enchiladas were smothered with jack cheese and a low fat red chile sauce. Salsa, back beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and low fat chicken sausages rounded out the meal.  For vegetarians, the chicken sausage could be substituted with fat free boca.

                         

                        The restaurant does not serve espresso coffee drinks so instead I ordered a cup of drip coffee. I was directed to help myself from the three coffee flasks on the main counter. My options were a Columbian blend, Texas Pecan, or a decaffeinated coffee. I opted for the Columbian blend and was so happy to drink a deliciously smooth coffee fusion.

                         

                        Other services

                         

                        At the main counter is a large display case that held an assortment of cookies and muffins. There are two standup refrigerated display units that are labeled as Take home and Grab and Go. Additionally, the restaurant also offers catering and details can be found on their website.

                         

                        My verdict

                         

                        It seems like this restaurant is a good option if you are looking for vegetarian and vegan menu offerings in a town that tends to cater more for meat eaters. The relaxed dining style makes it an easy choice to just pop in and enjoy a casual meal.

                         

                        The Fact Sheet

                         

                        Address: 9341 Katy Freeway, in the Echo Lane Shopping Center next to TJ Maxx.

                         

                        Phone: 713 365 0368

                         

                        Hours: Monday thru Saturday 9am to 9pm (Restaurant opens 9.30am)

                         

                        A Moveable Feast Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

                         

                         

                         

                         

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                          Torchy’s Tacos, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                          Torchy’s Tacos, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                            . Growing up in London England there was a pub on practically every corner (ok that’s a bit of a stereotype). Now living in Houston, there seems to be a Tex-Mex restaurant on each corner (along with a Starbucks of course). Ask the locals and each will give you their own particular favorite restaurant. For my youngest daughter who is now living in Chicago, Torchy’s Tacos is always where she heads on visits home. So, I thought it was high time that I visited this popular eatery.

                             

                            Background

                             

                            In 2006 Michael Rypka bought a food trailer by maxing out his credit cards and remortgaging his house and set up business in Austin, Texas. Things didn’t start out too well. So, Michael began to hand out free chips and his homemade salsa to entice customers to his food trailer. Listening to customer’s feedback, Michael honed his menu and now the 30 stores plus a trailer park attest to his success.

                             

                            There are currently 11 stores in and around the greater Houston area. Houstonians can now get their fix whenever they feel the need.

                            Torchys Tacos Houston

                            Décor

                             

                            My recent visit was to the Heights location on the corner of W 19th Street and Ashland Street. There is a large car park behind this store. An outdoor patio, and a faux patio, plus a bunch of tables and booths crammed into a fairly small space. The design is quite eclectic but made me think of a 50’s diner.

                            Torchys Tacos Houston

                            The Food

                             

                            We began with chips and queso, because that is simply a must try item. The bowl of green Chile queso is topped off with a dollop of guacamole, a little cilantro, and a swirl of diablo hot sauce that gives it that extra kick. I thought the homemade chips were a tad greasy for my liking. But judging by the huge amount of people ordering them, this is not an issue for others.

                             

                            To the queso order we added The Democrat taco – a choice of corn or flour tortilla filled with shredded beef barbacoa, a chunk of fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, and onions. A small pot of tomatillo salsa and a chunk of fresh lime rounds out this plate. Quite a hearty portion with extremely tender and flavorful beef mixed perfectly with the veggies.

                             

                            We also tried the Baja Shrimp taco – a fried battered shrimp mixed with cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos, onions, queso fresco, and a smattering of cilantro. A portion of chipotle sauce and a wedge of lime finish off this plate.  The double layer of tortillas just about held all the goodies in place and allowed us to eat this sizable serving.

                            Torchys Tacos Houston

                            Beer, both on draft and by the bottle, is available plus an extensive full bar area so it seemed rude not to try a local brew. I went with a St Arnold blend and was not disappointed, although somewhat surprised at its dark color (but Im no beer connoisseur).

                             

                            The Verdict for Torchy’s Taco Houston

                             

                            This restaurant is perfect for anyone needing a quick Tex-Mex fix. A relaxed atmosphere, tasty food, plenty of interesting combinations, and a full bar – what’s not to like?

                             

                            Torchys Tacos HoustonThe Fact Sheet

                             

                            Address: 350 W 19th Street, Houston, Tx 77008

                            Phone: 713 595 8229

                            Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-10pm, Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 8am-11pm, Sun 8am-10pm

                             
                            Torchy's Tacos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

                             

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                              Book Review- Startup by Doree Shafrir

                              Book Review- Startup by Doree Shafrir

                                If I share the good, should I share the bad’ish?

                                 

                                As I have mentioned previously, one of my Christmas presents was a membership to the Book of the Month Club. On the first of each month I get to select one of the five nominated books.  I can purchase all five books if I so wish, and this month I bought three, which turned out to be just as well.

                                 

                                How I select my BOTM

                                 

                                I am always very happy to see the new book selections pop up in an email and read the synopsis of each story. This guide helps me decide what book I like the sound of most. How do you pick what books to read? I have a few criteria that I generally use:

                                 

                                • Is the subject something that I can relate to?
                                • Or is the subject something that fascinates me?
                                • Is the setting a place I have visited?
                                • Or is the setting somewhere I’d love to learn more about?
                                • Do I like other books by this author?

                                 

                                Nothing too out of the normal with my list I don’t think? In April this phrase from the books précis caught my attention:

                                 

                                “A satirical and intensely entertaining debut, Startup is an amusing story of the absurdity of tech culture and modern romance gone awry. Even if you secretly lament the good ol’ days when people used the telephone instead of Snapchat, anyone who’s ever held an office job will find something to identify within”. Excerpt from BOTM synopsis.

                                My take on the story

                                 

                                The book delves into the lives of those involved in the tech startup world. Not based in Silicon Valley, as you might imagine, but New York City or Silicon Alley as it’s known (evidently). The main protagonist is Mack, a cocky young entrepreneur with a wellness app already valued at $600 million but looking to make that $1 billion however he can. The female leads are Isabel; young, beautiful, and seemingly carefree. Katya: young (get the theme here) and hungry for success. And finally, Sabrina; old at 36 (cough cough) a mom in a dysfunctional marriage and struggling with her finances (just a few clichés?) Startup tells the story of how their worlds, both physical and digital, collide.

                                 

                                What went wrong?

                                 

                                I’d say that the story started well enough. As the characters are introduced I recognized the familiar traits of today’s office culture – employees who wear earphones to zone out their fellow worker bees, who communicate and get summoned to meetings via Whatsapp, and who are full of insecurities over job security. But what I thought was going to be a book about tech startups actually takes a turn and SPOILER ALERT ALTHOUGH ITS IN MANY REVIEWS SO PERHAPS NOT it turns into a book about sexual harassment?

                                 

                                My verdict of Startup by Doree Shafrir

                                 

                                “Together these women develop an unexpected bond and might even have each other’s backs in a cutthroat industry”. Excerpt from BOTM synopsis.

                                While I will give you that the women’s work lives all become intertwined, I think it’s a stretch to say that they ‘develop an unexpected bond’.  And they hardly ‘have each other’s back in a cutthroat industry’. One begins the preliminary stages of an affair with another’s husband. One will sell her soul for a good story to publish so throwing one of the others under the bus is only a fleeting concern. And one looks only at all the negative stereotypes of her ‘old’ colleague without seeing any of her skills. As you can probably tell, I didn’t like the women too much!

                                 

                                And as for the men in the book? Well their own self-importance is their main driving force. Mack has the world at his feet (or so he thinks) so ‘rules’ are really only guidelines. Dan falls into the sad stereotype of the married man with responsibilities who has grown bored with all that so likes the look of the young colleague whose interest in getting on in the company he misconstrues to being an opening to start an affair. So I didn’t like the men too much either!

                                 

                                However, in my humble opinion, the actions taken by Mack AND Isabel do not warrant the main storyline of a book that could have amounted to so much more. And as for all the talk of sexual harassment, exchanging compromising photos of each other but one stopping when it’s time to move on and upward and the other not getting the subtle message straight away doesn’t seem like a very strong case to me. Yes, I’ll give you that it’s a ‘light’ read. Certainly, it doesn’t take too much concentration to work through so perhaps good for a beach read?

                                 

                                About No Fixed Abode For Sue       Don't miss out on any posts, plus make sure you get all the FREE DOWNLOADS and offers by joining the No Fixed Abode For Sue VIP Members group. A monthly newsletter plus access to the MEMBERS ONLY section of the blog. It's simple, just enter your email in the box below. Easy to unsubscribe at any time.

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                                  Review of Sunborn luxury yacht hotel in London Docklands

                                    Here’s an unusual idea for accommodation in London – a cruise that doesn’t move! This was too good an opportunity to pass up for me when I saw this option. Thankfully my husband played along and joined me on our mini ‘cruise’ in the London Docklands. All joking aside, this is a fantastic location for exploring this part of town. Close to the O2 it would be a fun location when attending one of the many events the arena puts on throughout the year. Take a peek at my review of Sunborn luxury yacht hotel in the heart of the London Docklands neighborhood.

                                     

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                                      Amorino Gelato, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                                      Amorino Gelato, Houston, Tx – Restaurant Review

                                        When we visited our new favorite iPic theater in the River Oaks District of Houston the other day we noticed an ice-cream shop next door. Our daughter Rebecca was familiar with the Amorino Gelato store in Chicago.  She assured us that we would enjoy trying their signature gelato cone. It sounded interesting, and even though the long line was a little off putting, we decide to give it a try

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