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Random bites: Back in the Day, Houlihan's
Back in the Day Bakery

Back in the Day Bakery

Yeah, yeah, the bread is awesome, the baby cakes cry out to be eaten and the sandwiches are towering treatises that pay homage to the sandwich-makers' art. But, dear readers, this Saturday morning, rush to this Starland District bakery and plan to moan with satisfaction as you work your way through one of the most decadent and praise-worthy cinnamon buns I've ever sampled. The big-as-a-dessert-plate bun is doughy and tender. Sweet, buttery, cinnamon-laced filling offers nostalgically comforting flavors and smells. Golden raisins peek from a thick layer of tart sour cream frosting. I ate mine at 10 a.m. and didn't eat another bite -- or want to -- until dinner. The buns are only made on Saturday. Don't go on Wednesday expecting one -- it's Grif and Cheryl Day's rules. And, on one day a week, it's our guilty pleasure.

2403 Bull St./495-9292


This far Southside franchise has reopened after a devastating fire last year -- and I'm happy to report is delivering the same, fresh dishes and fun atmosphere that I raved about prior to the blaze. On my recent visit, I chose from The Nooner menu -- a range of soup and salad combos or entrees that fall between a value-driven $5.99 and $9.49. In fact, only four dishes on the huge menu cross the $10 mark. I sampled a House Chop Salad with crisp strips of romaine, croutons, feta sprinkles and bright little sweet kernels of golden corn. A drizzle of thick bleu cheese dressing added more flavor to the already tasty salad. Nicely, acidic little grape tomatoes were just ripe enough to pop with flavor. I would have skipped the salad had I anticipated the size of the Chipotle-Smoked Chicken Enchiladas. The plump little enchiladas were filled with chunks of mildly spiced chicken billed as tomatillo-marinated. It's a mild dish -- and the taste of chipotle was blessedly not as overwhelming as many franchises offer. Seriously, I don't have to choke on the flavor. A queso and mozzarella cheese blend added creaminess and delicious gooey texture. Sides of black beans -- beautifully seasoned -- white rice and a salad seasoned with more chipotle (think ramped up cole slaw) rounded out a dish too large for me to finish. Catering as it does to neighboring interstate highway hotels, happy hour deals on appetizers and rinks are excellent and the food, service and atmosphere far exceed the typical chain, casual dining experience. Everything is prepared fresh and in-house -- a far cry from the usual pack.

17029 Abercorn St./921-5712