Posts Tagged ‘Spring Branch’

Treebeards+Red Beans and Rice=Crazy Delicious

March 31, 2006

So, I was thinking about all the Houston restaurants I missed and I got a craving for Treebeard’s Red Beans and Rice. Man, there’s nothing like Friday lunch at Treebeard’s: trying to get up early enough in the day to make it downtown before the end of lunch service. Yeah people, morning is not my strong suit. I grew up in Spring Branch, which is in west Houston, so it takes me about a half hour to make my way on down the 10 freeway to Market Square.


Treebeards is housed in a charming old building with a second story balcony overlooking the square. It was built sometime around 1870 and it is the 2nd oldest building in Houston.


There are tables outside looking over the historic square but you briefly wonder why anyone would give up the chance for air conditioning on this steaming hot day. You enter the building and a rush of cold air blankets you.


Once through the door, you get a frisson of excitement as you grab your plastic tray and queue up in the buffet line. The steam rises from the behind the counter and the smell of bay leaves and sausage envelops you as you slide your tray along the slick steel and gaze in wonderment.


You skip over the plastic-wrapped bowls of salad and cake and go straight for the hot line. You tell the guy behind the counter with the hair net that you want a bowl of red beans and rice with sausage. He grabs a bowl and scoops some rice into it and then ladles some red beans on top. He carefully places two fat sausage links on top and then asks you, “Cheese and onions?” You say, “Yes, everything.”


He adds a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and chopped green onions to the top and hands the bowl to you. You place it on your tray and keep sliding down the steel.

You’re eyeballing those mustard greens: hearty and spicy, studded with plump gulf shrimp. “Some mustard greens, please” The woman with the hair net dips tongs into the steaming greens and grabs a good-sized clump. She holds the bowl underneath the sodden greens and collects the juices in the bottom and then she carefully places several glistening shrimp in with the greens and mixes them up in the bowl of juice. She hands you the bowl and you keep sliding down the steel. You pay at the cashier and then you stand there with your tray wobbling as you scan the room for a table. Ah, there’s one by the door that say’s “WC”. Well, it’s not ideal but you realize that somehow, you always end up sitting at that same table. You briefly consider waking up a little earlier next time so that you might actually get a table near the window and then quickly brush that idea aside. 11:30 am is plenty early, you think. You decide that there must be some good reason why you always end up at the same table and you pull out the chair and sit down.

Hurriedly, you take the bowls and your big plastic glass of iced tea with two lemons off the tray and place them on the table. You grab the hot sauce and shake a few healthy streams over the top of the onions and then you dig your fork in the middle. After a few stabs and stirs you slice off a piece of sausage, scoop up some beans and rice and shovel it all in your mouth. You bite into the sausage and realize that it’s molten-lava hot so you open your mouth and try to blow the steam out while still chewing and swallowing. Figuring that you will give it a few minutes to cool down, you dig your fork into the warm, fragrant greens and stab a shiny pink shrimp. Bringing it to your lips you manage to drip pot ‘likker’ down your chin and the front of your shirt. The spicy, tomatoey broth with a hint of fish sauce and garlic perfectly compliments the greens and the shrimp and warms your belly immediately. You finish the small bowl in a few big bites and then you turn back to the red beans and rice. Slicing another bite of sausage off the link, you load up another forkful. Blowing on it gently, you gingerly place it in your mouth. Biting down you realize the temperature is perfect and you contentedly chew. You close your eyes and a smile crawls across your face because you just realized:

Treebeards + Red Beans and Rice = Crazy Delicious.