Meals on Wheels

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DMy blog is typically to review restaurants, food, service and accessibility. Today, i’m taking a different ‘spin’ and am writing about Meals on Wheels. I first became familiar with the program back in the ’80’s. I was a student at UT and i would ride the Capitol Metro ‘special transit’ system to go to and fro. We would often go pick up people at Senior Centers. They would get on the bus with most holding a styrofoam container with a meal from Meals on Wheels. Sometimes one of the elderly would give me their food because they didn’t want it. When I got home I could understand why. The food was cold, bland and unappetizing. The whole thing didn’t leave me with a good impression.

Fast forward  present time. My brother Richard who lives in Dallas with his family called and asked me if I could set up some volunteer hours for Nina for her confirmation.   I happen to be a member on several boards of nonprofit organization’s one of them being HAND (Helping the Aged, Needy and Disabled). HAND  recently became a part of Meals on Wheels, thus I had the opportunity to meet the CEO of Meals on Wheels, Dan Pruett on several occasions. I found him to be an amazing man with passion, vision and a true humanitarian.  I decided that Meals on Wheels would be a good opportunity for Nina to be of service.  I contacted the volunteer Coordinator who immediately set us up for training. The training lasted about 30 minutes and after that we were taken to the central kitchen where we were given our assigned routes and the food.

I was very impressed at how well organized the routes were and the food with different colored dots which told us what to give to whom. The routes were close together, so it wasn’t like we had to criss-cross around town. We were often done in 45 minutes.

I drove while Nina set up the GPS. We would arrive, Nina got the food according to instructions  and went to the door to deliver. Most of the residents were friendly and grateful. Nina even checked the mail for one lady and took a trash bag out for another person (your allowed to help at your discretion). A couple of people didn’t come to the door so as directed, we called the coordinator and within minutes a phone call was made and the person came to the door.

I have to say the food has definitely improved since my ’80’s experience. One day it was ginger beef with jasmine rice, sauteed zucchini and squash and banana pudding, bread/roll, milk and fruit. One day it was meatloaf and mashed potatoes, another hamburger….the food is in compartmental trays with a sealed cover. There were some meals Nina and i went ‘ooohhhh’.

I think what the experience left me with, and hopefully Nina too, is how good it feels to be of service. To feed, care for and be there for our senior community, a community that oft-times is neglected. One of the things they told us in training was how many of the MOW recipients are isolated and lonely. Sometimes the MOW volunteer is the only contact they have all day.

On our last day, Friday, we went to a church on Berkman Dr. We had a list of 20 people. This meant alot of food we had to pack and carry! However, they were all at The Primrose Senior Apartments so we parked in the main guest lot, got the food according to building and delivered.

I can’t say how much I appreciate this amazing non-profit organization.  The organization has expanded to include other services which is why it’s now called Meals on Wheels and More. They offer minor home repairs,  grocery shopping for those who can still cook but can’t go to the store, P.A.L.S  which helps with pets and now with HAND, they can provide attendant care!

Meals on Wheels rocks and rolls!

Meals On Wheels
Social services organization in Austin, Texas
Address: 3227 E 5th St, Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 476-6325

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Cedro’s

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Hello everyone. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but i am taking the time today to tell you all of a new Italian restaurant….Cedro’s ristorante pizzaria        http://www.cedroaustin.com/

 

The food was superb, the pasta made fresh! I was a little disappointed in the size of the appetizers. I know appetizers are supposed to be small but if you’re sharing, like we did, it’s just a smidgen. We started with bacon-wrapped dates and the meatball appetizers. Both were excellent.

Being a pasta lover, I ordered the pasta carbonera that came with an egg on top. One friend ordered a salad (of course I teased her on how can you order a SALAD at an Italian restaurant that makes fresh homemade pasta????). My other friend ordered a pannini with french fries (what’s wrong with these people?).

We then shared two deserts. I got the pumpkin cheesecake with a side of chocolate, it sounds like a strange combination but it worked! We also had the apple puff pastry. OMG, this was divine. I mean you could actually taste the butter!

The service was good, excellent presentation of the dishes, nice atmosphere, fully accessible to wheelchairs, including the bathroom. The only thing I didn’t like were the plates which were huge white, heavy ceramic type and the silverware was also big, heavy and basically unwieldy if you have difficulty using your hands. I definitely plan to go again but I’ll be taking my own silverware 🙂

 

 

Gourdough’s Public House

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The Dinner Rollers roll to Gourdough’s! Yeah, I’ve often used terms like big, fat to describe myself but this time I defer to Gourdough’s. I must say when I first heard of Gourdough’s I had only heard of the dessert options available from a food trailer and it sounded great but then I heard hamburgers made with donuts? That just seemed wrong. This was a place the Dinner Rollers just HAD to check out! I can’t even begin to describe the menu but yessiree-Bob, they were all on donuts. Even the salad had a big fat donut. The menu is funny with entree’s titled ‘The Breast Lift’, ‘The Saussy Cock’, the ‘Ron Burgandy’…

I and the other dinner rollers liked the atmosphere. I especially loved the music, southern and classic rock – my genre! We all had a great time and totally enjoyed the food.

As for accessibility…there are only 2 accessible parking spaces but they were available! They do have the now popular high tables but they have low picnic-type tables too that people in wheelchairs can utilize.

If i have one complaint, it’s that our server was slow. It’s not like there was a full house so as far as I could tell, there was no reason for her to be as slow as she was. I’ve never liked having to look around trying to find our wait staff.

Sharizod’s restroom review:2

I think this picture sums it up….we were so full that even Jennifer couldn’t finish the last sliver of strawberry LOL. He was the lone survivor 🙂

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Sheila loves a donut in her salad!

Casa Colombia

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I first ate at this restaurant a few years ago when it was in a small house-like building on E. 7th St. My friend Evelyn took me there as she is from Puerto Rico and she found the food to be authentic (well for Austin anyway). I wasn’t sure what to order so she helped some. I decided on the Pescado en Cilantro y Mayonesa (Fresh grilled tilapia topped with cilantro, mayonnaise and chipotle sauce; served with fried yucca, sweet plantains, and rice). I absolutely loved it! A couple of years ago, they moved into a new building across the street from the original place, still on E. 7th St. Every time I drove by I would think I need to go check that out. A few weeks ago, my sister and her husband went to have lunch there and they raved about it. My cousins birthday was coming up so we decided to take her there. Well, I ordered the same dish I had originally  and it was still superb. My sister loves their Pechuga Rellena (Grilled chicken breast stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, spinach, and Colombian pico de gallo; served with mashed potatoes, salad, and black beans), my cousin got Ropa Vieja (Shredded beef mixed with green olives, capers, and red wine sauce; served with rice, salad, and sweet plantains).  The menu is divided by classic dishes, beef, chicken, pork, fish and vegetarian. It’s a pretty simply layed out menu with good description, so you know what your getting.

As for accessibility, being a newly constructed, post ADA building, it is very accessible. The restaurant is roomy with easy access to the bathroom. There was excellent accessible parking. The décor is beautiful. Simply decorated with rich colors. No need to worry about a car hanging from the ceiling over your head or so much décor it would take 6 eyes to take it all in 🙂

I highly recommend you give it a try but like most restaurants in Austin, word has gotten around and the last time my sister went she lamented “oh noooo, now there’s a wait. Word must be getting around!”.

I myself can’t wait to get back to that fish!13221214_10208195659581898_7981800763352247288_o

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my sisters fave Pechuga Reyena
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my brother-in-laws fave Bistec a Caballo Grilled top sirloin topped with two fried eggs and criolla sauce; served with black beans, rice and sweet plantains

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http://casa-colombia.com/

 

Snooze

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A few months ago, my friend Nancy and I received an invitation to attend a pre-opening function at Snooze. The invitation came by way of Meals on Wheels. We were invited to ‘taste test’…

Source: Snooze

Snooze

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A few months ago, my friend Nancy and I received an invitation to attend a pre-opening function at Snooze. The invitation came by way of Meals on Wheels. We were invited to ‘taste test’ the menu for FREE. Free is one of my favorite 4 letter words! Any donations went to Meals on Wheels. The event was rescheduled 3 times, but 3 being a charm, it finally took place. We invited 2 other friends to join us. Now breakfast/brunch is my favorite kind of meal so I was almost delirious when I saw the menu. We started with a platter of 3 different pancakes:

OMG! French Toast
Bread & Cie brioche stuffed with mascarpone then griddled and topped with
vanilla crème, salted caramel, fresh strawberries and toasted coconut. O. M. G.

Sticky Toffee Pudding French Toast
Griddled slices of homemade date bread pudding drizzled with salted toffee sauce then topped with walnut streusel and whipped mascarpone

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes
Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized pineapple chunks, house-made vanilla crème anglaise and cinnamon butter

Sweet Potato Pancakes
Our signature sweet potato buttermilk pancakes topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans and ginger butter.

After we all shared the pancakes and ooohhhh and aaahhhd (while our eyes rolled to the back of our heads), we ordered breakfast plates from the ‘Flavors from the Hen’ menu:

Snooze Spuds Deluxe
A heaping portion of our hash browns, covered with melted cheddar & jack cheese, scallions plus choice of two fillings – sooo good with an Egg or two!

Ham Benedict III
The classic evolved with our signature English muffin topped with shaved hickory smoked ham, perfectly poached cage free eggs and smoked cheddar hollandaise.

Benny Goodman
Lox style salmon and cream cheese served over toasted rye and topped with poached cage free eggs, cream cheese hollandaise blended with sun dried tomato and caper relish.

 

Well, what can I say but that I felt like I had died and gone to brunch heaven.

As for accessibility and décor….being a brand new building, it was very accessible with plenty of accessible parking in the parking garage (and they were all available!). The  restaurant is contemporary modern. It seemed small and cramped to me but that’s the trend these days. They have a nice outdoor dining patio but you’ll never find me out there. I didn’t check the restroom for accessibility but it probably is. The wait-staff were all young…the hostess placed Nancy and I at a booth that was open on each end. We looked at each other across the table and just laughed. Known for taking ‘the bull by the horns’, I found a table that would suit our wheelchair needs. The 2 women had just sat down and they were happy to trade tables. What we didn’t know was that they had ordered that platter of pancakes we ate. We thought the server just put it on our table as part of the taste testing…so we ate it….and then…overheard complaining to waitress ‘We never got our pancake platter’, waitress ‘oh it was delivered to the table where you were, I think they ate it’. GULP.

Snooze has 2 locations, both on N and S Lamar. I highly recommend it and can’t wait to go back but plan on a wait. I think as word gets out the people will come and I can already see more than an hour wait.

 

TX Menu

http://austin.eater.com/2016/2/19/11071280/snooze-brunch-restaurant-austin-facts

 

 

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Freda’s Seafood Grill

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Freda’s

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of dinner at Freda’s. I am a lover of seafood, so when I saw the billboard on 183, I knew it was a place I had to try. The opportunity came up when the Project Director of Parking Mobility treated me to dinner as a thank you for working on a project as a volunteer.

I myself, found this to be a nice place. Unfortunately, we were seated in an empty dining room because the host/manager thought we would be ‘more comfortable’ (we’re both wheelchair users). I didn’t mind, and actually preferred it, because at least we didn’t have to be part of a crowded, loud dining area and in this room, we could actually hear ourselves talk. Mack, however, had a different impression as you will read below. He makes a good point, many of whom may share with him, but I didn’t see the point of making it a big deal.  I think that after 50 years of experiencing public discrimination, I’ve learned to pick and choose what to find offense. But I am glad Mack did and his review is below. Please read and let us know your thoughts and opinions.

As for the food, I thought it was damn good. We started off with fresh oysters. They were good but I’ve had better. I got the catfish and shrimp and both were excellent. I think Mack got the Stuffed Red Snapper which I think he enjoyed. We got the bread pudding as dessert and ohhhh my, it was divine.

I definitely plan to go back.  – Renee

Review from Mack Marsh on Yelp.

tn17
10903 Pecan Park Blvd
Austin, TX 78750
 

5/10/2016

I recently moved to the area and had the opportunity to take a volunteer and friend to dinner to thank her for going above and beyond on a recent project.  I’ve been craving good seafood and read positive reviews about Freda’s.  Since its not far from my house, I thought maybe I had found a gem so I made reservations.  We arrived on time and checked in.  Now, I happen to use a wheelchair and so does my friend. We were led through the bar area and up a ramp and into what appeared to be one of the private banquet rooms.  The gentleman that sat us was polite but I asked, “Is it standard that you don’t seat people with disabilities in your dining room?”  He stammered a bit and said, “No, not at all, I just thought you’d be more comfortable in here because its a little cramped in there.”

Now, a part of dining out is being a part of the energy and atmosphere of the restaurant…to be a part of the experience others are having.  If your dining room is ‘cramped’, maybe you should rethink the layout of your tables.  Not to mention the standards set by both the ADA and the Texas Accessibility Standards, it seems that its just good policy to ensure your patrons have room to maneuver and get around in your dining room comfortably.  It was also pretty apparent to both my dinner companion and myself that our server was a bit perturbed at having to serve a table that was removed from his section and, at first seemed a bit short and impatient with us.  After we ordered and received our apps the staff did seat a couple of other tables in the room but it was apparent when we arrived that the plan wasn’t to seat in that section.  I will also note that when I made the reservation, I was very specific that we would need a table setup for two wheelchairs and the greeting staff seemed a bit confused when we arrived.

This type of ‘innocent’ bigotry is unacceptable.  I have no doubt the gentleman seating us had no ill intent but to assume that we would be ‘more comfortable’ being segregated from the dining room is just that…a form of bigotry.  It wasn’t too many years ago that an African American or anyone that didn’t appear to be of Anglo decent would have been seated away from the main dining room so ‘they would feel more comfortable’.  By saying this, what you are saying is that the rest of your patrons would be more comfortable not seeing someone who doesn’t look like them.  People with disabilities account for 20% of the population.  They contribute $300 billion to the economy.  9 out of 10 Americans have a direct relationship to a person with a disability.  Personally, I am a small business owner who happens to enjoy a meal in a nice restaurant several times per month and prefer to patron locally owned restaurants to the ‘cattle call’ of major chains.  I also have a son who works in the restaurant industry and is a top server and bartender at another locally owned, upscale restaurant.

Now we enjoyed our meal.  The servers seemed to be well trained, the food was good and came out at appropriate speed.  I was a little disappointed by the expediter who seemed to be hurried and didn’t present well but I can attribute that to a busy Friday night.  By all accounts, I would say that Freda’s would make my list to visit again…except that I just left with the feeling that we were not welcome and I refuse to patronize establishments that don’t seem to want my business.  Its a shame, really.