Food From The Soul
1411 Houston River Road, Westlake
Have you ever seen or heard about something and really wanted to do it, and you kept reminding yourself that you needed to do it, but it took forever for that to happen and when you finally did it you wished you’d have done it sooner? Yeah? This is one of those stories.
Ju’Elles Café has been crossing my newsfeed for some time with pics of tempting food. However, the setbacks we’ve all experienced created some delays in getting back to a full menu. When the restaurant announced the re-launch of a particular item, I knew things were looking up. That item was the patty melt.
Sitting right on Houston River Road in Westlake, the restaurant has a tree-lined lot with a few picnic tables about the grounds and a large deck which leads up to a former refrigerated trailer that has been converted into a kitchen.
As I read the white marker-board menu, I really had a simple goal: order a patty melt for myself and a burger to take home to my wife.
Though the food is fresh and cooked to order, it wasn’t long before my name was called and a bag was passed to me through the window. I got back in my truck and sped off as the aroma began to fill the cabin. I figured I’d find a secluded area where I could enjoy the food in peace and take a few pics. I made my way to the river and popped open the container.
Ju’Elles definitely puts their own flavorful twist on the patty melt. It was a seasoned beef patty, topped with melted cheese, sautéed red onions and mushrooms, pickles, mayo and a thin layer of mustard on grilled bread. It is a definite dance of flavors.
So I achieved my personal goal of trying this delicious patty melt. But I felt it would be an injustice not to make a return visit and try some of the other offerings. I sent a message to the café one morning asking if I could place an order for pickup. The response was a short video of homemade gravy being whisked up.
I showed up a little early and took the opportunity to go behind the scenes. The name Ju’Elles is a combination of two names. The frontline cook and owner is Julius Mitchell; his wife Tichelle is on the marketing and social media front. Also in the kitchen is the right-hand man Nathaniel Malveaux, an experienced and proven cook.
Julius has a drive to bring his food to the community. The reward is watching people enjoy the fruit of his labors. When I asked about what led him to open Ju’Elle’s, he talked about his grandma and Mom Dukes. “I’ve always known I was going to love cooking as I came up and watched how they put so much passion into a meal that would bring family together and make the holidays something to look forward to. I just love to see people enjoy good food”.
A lot was going on in that narrow trailer as the guys prepped for the day while making my meals. I had originally planned on ordering a chicken quesadilla and some of these wings I’d been seeing on social media. With very little effort, Julius talked me into adding the special of the day. Who’s going to turn that down?
I’m watched as the chicken was hand-battered and fried. The gravy got a little love to make sure it was perfect. I’d set out to have a simple lunch, yet I walked out with enough food to treat my wife’s co-workers. It didn’t take but a few seconds for heads to start popping into the office’s break room to see what the aroma was all about. There were lots of ooohs and ahhhs as my wife’s co-workers gazed over a blackened shredded chicken quesadilla with jalapeños and sour cream, chicken wings with crispy skin and piping hot juicy meat, fries and several dipping sauces. And, of course, there was the special of the day: breaded and fried boneless chicken over seasoned mashed potatoes topped with a side of scratch peppered gravy, homemade mac and cheese, cornbread, corn and dessert cups. It was straight-up good home cooking from the soul. Definitely check them out. You won’t be disappointed.