Chomp! Bel Air Restaurant offers down-home cooking

By by jessica rodrigo/
Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.

My photo doesn't do chicken fried steak at the Bel-Air restaurant justice. The mashed potatoes were so good, I wish I could've replicated the recipe for Thanksgiving.

My photo doesn't do chicken fried steak at the Bel-Air restaurant justice. The mashed potatoes were so good, I wish I could've replicated the recipe for Thanksgiving.

There have been several times when I have traveled to Hallettsville and seen a packed parking lot outside of the Bel Air Restaurant at the tip of town. I always imagined it'd be a popular eatery since it sits at corner of U.S. Highway 77 coming from Victoria and the Highway 77 alternate coming from Yoakum.

Luke and I had a chance to visit one evening because all the restaurants were closed in Cuero. He was in a driving mood and thought the drive to Hallettsville would be nice. The day was pleasant, and it warranted a cruise with the windows down.

We popped into the Bel Air Restaurant just as the sun was setting, but there were still cars pulling up to the restaurant ready for eats and a lady seated in her car looking at the to-go menu.

As soon as we sat down, the hostess told us the specials for the evening, and right away Luke was sold on the chicken fried steak.

The white board on the far side of the room read hamburger stroganoff as the other special. Both came with the choice of two sides and a go at the soup and salad bar. The list of sides was generous, including the usual suspects of mashed potatoes, baked potato, sweet potato, fried okra, french fries, veggies and more.

I ordered the special, and, like I said, Luke was set. We helped ourselves to the soup and salad bar as soon as our waitress stepped away. I opted for the chicken noodle soup and Luke piled a salad high on his plate.

The soup was full of whole chunks of chicken, carrots and celery. The noodles hadn't broken down and were still thick and hearty. I tried my best to leave room for my dinner, but I was hungry and the soup was good. Luke wanted another salad, but he also decided to save room for dinner.

When our plates arrived, I was surprised by what the waitress put in front of me. Every other time I've had any form of stroganoff, served over egg noodles. At Bel Air, they served it over white rice. The flavor was good,, but the texture was a little off-putting for me. The combination of white rice and meat were a little too close in texture for me.

The mashed potatoes that came from Luke's chicken fried steak were to die for. They were so flavorful. At first glance, you could tell they were going to be good, too. The scoop of potatoes were shiny and almost yellow, either from the great amount of butter or chicken broth used to whip them up. On the contrary, they weren't completely whipped, with some chunks of potatoes left for contrast.

The breading on the steak was crisp and seasoned well, and didn't soak up all the gravy, which made for an even more pleasant chicken fried steak. The okra, which we both ordered, was crisp, but nothing out of the ordinary.

If you're taking a cruise near or through Hallettsville pop into the Bel Air Restaurant for a home-cooked meal.

Jessica Rodrigo is in Albuquerque. Join me during my journey home to visit the 'rents and gorge on Filipino food and green chile. Tweet at me, @eatseatseats, or follow me on Instagram with the same handle, eatseatseats. Easier to remember that way.



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