A Green Lunch

    There is this quote of Anton Ego that I heard again tonight and is still ringing in my head: “In many ways, the word of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer their works and their selves to our judgment.” That is true: the critic (or the self-proclaimed critic, aka the food blogger) goes to a restaurant, eats the food, and writes about the food with respect to his expectation of what it should be. The expectation usually comes from a long list of preset rules that he goes through with check marks and x’s: beef is tender, vegetables are crisp, bread is crusty, truffles are included, lobsters were kicking the tank minutes before they turn red. But every so often, his expectation might come from friends’ recommendations. The judgment then includes not only the subjected restaurant or dish, it also indirectly includes the friend’s credibility. Whatever the (self-proclaimed) critic puts down in writing, be it positive or negative, he risks a part of his friend’s and his own credibility in his friend’s eyes, which is not a “very little” thing.

    As such, I feel like tiptoeing with my words tonight. Der Miller has recommended Ruggles since last year and I was looking forward to their coconut crusted shrimps, but they only open for dinner. With 4 hours to go until dinner time, we swung by Ruggle Greens, where der Miller attested to be basically the same as its dinner sister, only more downtown-lunchy. It has take-outs.

    The parking lot was packed. If we are to judge a restaurant by its number of patrons, Ruggles Green has no fear. If we are to judge it by price per fillingness, from this Berkeley-trained student’s perspective, Ruggle Greens is quite reasonable. I was full after an appetizer and half a dessert. Der Miller was full after two thirds of an appetizer and half a dessert, which kinda made me question my appetite. 😛

    The hempenadas (hempempanadas?) ($9) were mealy, as expected of a hemp-and-wheat coat and a crowded filling of hemp seeds, raisins, beef, cheddar, and mozzarella.

    The crab cake ($14), as der Miller put, was “bready”, but softened by its accompanying roasted tomato butter sauce. I’ve always liked the mini crab cakes that you can put all at once in your mouth like a sesame ball, break through the rough crunchiness into the sweet shredded meat, and repeat. I missed that with this Ruggles Green’s solo gargantuan version.

    The bread pudding ($7), unlike the crab cake, didn’t have much “bread”. Coupled with a melting chocolate lace and vanilla ice cream, it sure was as warm, gooey, and chocolatey as puddings ought to be.

    How would I rank Ruggles Green? Der Miller said that I’m a difficult eater, but he is one himself. His eyes showed neither approval nor disapproval of the food that day. For me, it is pleasant to see that the Houstonians are embracing the green fashion of today’s cookery, and that the Houstonian restauranteurs are making it a casual, affordable affair instead of some hippie hipster thing, which it isn’t. Although I don’t remember seeing any bamboo hats, I like that they show you how to stop junk mail. 🙂

    Next time, I’ll go to Ruggles.

    Address: Ruggles Green in River Oaks
    2311 West Alabama, Suite C
    Houston, Texas 77098
    (713) 533-0777

    *Bread pudding pictures credit: Jason Miller

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