Dear Foodies,

I’ve been extremely pleased at the huge response I have received from writing this column. Of course I understand not all of us will have the same experience when it comes to visiting a restaurant. I hope, however, that my reviews will give you an idea of what each establishment has to offer.

There are many factors I consider when I review a restaurant and, besides the quality of food, I give much emphasis to the management. I prefer not to critique franchises because they already have a following and a hearty budget for advertising. I would however like to mention Russell Walker who manages Romano’s Macaroni Grill in McAllen. He goes above and beyond when it comes to customer service. You can see him working the floor making sure the food comes out on time and that the staff is taking care of their tables. He treats this restaurant as if it were his own. I congratulate him for being a true example of what excellent customer service should be.

Now, on that same note let me put my maximum seal of approval on an old favorite of McAllen! Sweet Temptations. Need I say more? This local family favorite has been around for many years and is still going strong. When J.P. and Marty Lipscomb took over this restaurant they continued doing what they do best — treating each and every customer with that Texas hospitality.

My 8-year-old daughter Odette, who is a refined eater, accompanied me on my visit and as always, she was ready to give her input. Our helpful waiter Armando greeted us with a smile and took good care of us that day. I started off with a good cup of Java and my daughter ordered a tall cup of rich hot chocolate with whip cream $1.79 (sugar high for the day). She gave it an A plus. Then came my “Chicken Envueltos” $8.99 ( must have!). Imagine this oval plate with three soft corn tortillas stuffed with chicken and cooked with their special homemade tomato sauce that had the perfect hint of garlic. The envueltos also came with shredded lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes and sliced avocados surrounded by crispy tortilla chips and a side of their jalapeno/mayo sauce and their homemade pico de gallo. Believe it or not it was a light dish and with all those fresh veggies I did not feel guilty until….I had a special request.

I asked the waiter to bring me four samples of their signature desserts, naughty of me! While we waited my daughter mentioned that she was also craving soup so I granted her wish. I saw how happy and delighted she was to savor this cup of chicken noodle soup $3.99. It had celery, thick curly noodles, chopped carrots, loads of chicken, and the broth was perfect! This was truly the best homemade soup and I could not have made it better myself. Yippee! My desserts had arrived. It was like Christmas all over again. I tried the italian cream cake, the chocolate fudge cake, the carmel banana pie and the banana split pie ( slice $3.99).To be honest I could probably take up a whole page raving about these fabulous desserts made from scratch. Let me just say that all of them left me completely satisfied. My daughter sure loved the decadent chocolate cake and I could have taken a whole Italian cream cake home with me. A whole pie is only $13.50, which is a great buy.

As I digested my food listening to some easy listening Beetles CD I looked around this cozy place that feels like home and noticed how J.P was walking around with a big smile offering free samples of their desserts — how sweet! I also overheard Marty talking to some customers at a table and he was recommending their meatloaf, lasagna, and the catch of the day. Once I realized that J.P. was half Italian and that she grew up in a home where they would make their sauces from scratch and she continues to follow her family’s traditional Italian recipies I was glad. I had always ordered their exquisite quiches but now I know why their Italian dishes taste so authentic.

Did you know they also have a juicy Angus burger severed on sour dough bread? I had it once and it was to die for!

Sweet Temptations truly honors its name and reflects the dedication and love of its proprietors.

With admiration,

Madame Gourmand

Sweet Temptations 5601 N. 10th Street, McAllen. 956-630-0307. Hours: Monday — Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.