The fruit and grains salad

As I watched the couple seated at the table directly in front of mine tuck into Lucille’s “Yard Bird,” a monstrous platter comprising a fried chicken breast and thigh, mashed potatoes, collard greens, and a heavy pour of honey-thyme jus and a “side” of the bubbling, gooey macaroni and cheese, it was hard not to feel a wee bit jealous.

But I was resolute in my decision to eat light during that particular visit at Lucille’s because I knew if I binged on soporific soul food, I would require a post-meal nap. It was midday at the very beginning of a crowded work week and I did not have that luxury. (Not that I am categorically against sleeping on the job.)

Any order envy engendered by my neighbors’ entree selections, however, evaporated when I tasted Lucille’s fruit and grains salad, whose deceptively simple name belied assemblage of ingredients that was far from garden variety.

Atop a bed of tender, nutty farro and quinoa were supple chunks of roasted squash, coarse cubes of yellow pear, and pops of sweetness from bright magenta pomegranate seeds. A generous sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese added considerable richness to the aforementioned lighter components, rendering this salad simultaneously satiating yet refreshing. And though I appreciated the vinaigrette’s biting notes of acid and citrus a nice contrast, I suggest you do as I did and request the dressing on the side as the “fruit and grains” naked are perfect as is.

The oyster BLT

My palate whet but not withered from the healthful starter, I was eager for my main course. I was sorely tempted by the ham hock reuben, and I probably should have had the tuna sandwich to stay true to my course of eating very light, but compromised by ordering the oyster BLT.  

With its layers of unctuous juicy cornmeal battered bivalves and crispy bacon strips, plus a thick schmear of aioli on a thick malty pretzel roll and with “L” (baby arugla) and “T” (tomato confit) as mere afterthoughts, this amazing sammie was not exactly diet food. The solution: eschew the side of fries in favor of a mixed green salad and save half the BLT for a post-spin snack.

I skipped dessert (though Lucille’s bread pudding should be on every Houston foodie’s bucket list) in favor of a cup of Earl Grey, the ideal digestif for a light lunch on a rainy afternoon.

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Lucille's

$$ Creole, Southern 5512 La Branch St.

Named in honor of Texas culinary legend Lucille B. Smith, the restaurant run by her great-grandson—chef Chris Williams—turns out a whole fried yardbird (at d...