Chef Rob Frias and Co-Owner Daniel Ornelas
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.
Loaded Baked Potato Soup
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.
Shrimp & Grits
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.
We ordered two Crab Cakes that were surprisingly packed with crab flavor, as they were made with claw meat rather than lump crab meat, so the crab is not that visible. The cakes are served with a Meyer lemon aioli and a streak of Balsamic vinegar reduction. Nice.
Wild Mushroom Risotto
A Wild Mushroom Risotto was creamy and loaded with wild mushrooms and topped with crispy parsley. I doubt that there are many places in Rosenberg serving a dish like this.
Fried Chicken and Waffles
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.
As I said, Ol’ Railroad Café is well worth the short drive and, while the food is worth far more, there is nothing on the menu over $10.00. They are open with a brunch on Sundays and a popular dish at brunch is Shrimp & Waffles (another Southern comfort food).
819 2nd Street