September 22, 2009

Houston Restaurant Week Reviews!

Wow! I’m incredibly slacking on posting new updates. I promise to be better. Really. Today, though, I actually wanted to share my experiences with several restaurants around town during Houston Restaurant Week last month. I hope to do this too with any new places I try. Below are recaps so beware, it’s a long post. First off, Can I just say that Restaurant Week is just frickin fantastic? Good company, good deal, good food – if you don’t get excited about restaurant week, you’re just weird and probably not my friend! Restaurants listed in order that we tried them. Enjoy!

Sullivans Steakhouse
What was even better that Houston Restaurant Week was preceded by Yelp’s restaurant week.
- Mango martini: While perusing the menu prior (durh, so I know what I’m ordering beforehand J ), Susan realized they have some pretty awesome happy hour deals - $5 for special martini? Sign me up! The mango martini that was (lick your lips here...).
- Wedge Salad was pretty delicious but it was a lot. I wish it had a tad more dressing but I was already pretty stuffed after eating a majority of this. On the salad scale, I’d give it a 6. My 10 would go to Maggianos chopped salad which is absolutely delish.
- Filet Medium Rare with mashed potatoes & green beans – Tender. Cooked perfectly. Delicious. Entirely consumed. One of the best filets I’ve had in a restaurant in a long while. Still doesn’t compare to my dad’s steaks though!
- Chocolate mousse with mixed berries
- Hilar moment for me: For the special Yelps menu, you had to call in letting them know you were there for that deal. Otherwise, they gave you a normal menu. So why is this important? We soon realized that a majority of the tables that partook, where large groups of Asians – just like us! Have good, cheap food and Asians will come in waves J

VOICE – Hotel Icon
I’ve come to the conclusion that overall, I’m just not overly impressed with hotel restaurants after going to three in two weeks. VOICE was enjoyed by my dinner club. Again, menu was limited but Linds and I read up on reviews of items and had narrowed down to a few choices prior.
- Carneroli risotto with tomatoes, chives and asiago cheese. It was good but not amazing like Picos in San Francisco. Some of my rice kernels were a little hard. Doesn’t matter, I still ate the entire dish. Linds had the Mushroom Soup Capuccino which I think was a better dish. I had a spoonful and it was delicious!
- coulot Steak sous vide served with Yukon potato cream, charred onions and shallot sauce. The meat was a little mealy and after having Sullivans steak the week prior, this was a tad letdown. I was pretty ravenous (the wait for dishes was incredibly long....a strike) and ate a majority of it. The potato and onions – I didn’t finish.
- Strawberry rhubarb crisp with almond oat streusel and ginger Chantilly cream. I never had rhubarb before so was pretty excited about this dish. Again, it was good but not a dish that I’m going to remember or jot down as a top favorite. I ate about half. If I have a dessert dish and don’t finish – that’s a big deal. J
- Overall impression was mediocre. Thank goodness there was good company and wine J. Setting was nice with big chairs but atmosphere was definitely the feel of an open hotel restaurant. Service was mediocre since it took a long while before we even got our first dish and had to wait a bit in between dishes too. Oh, did I mention the fire alarm that went off but everyone just stayed put? Again, awesomeness.

Rainbow Lodge
I had mixed feelings about this place. Heard rave reviews from several folks. If we didn’t have the off the set menu appetizer, I probably wouldn’t think about going back in the near future. The ostrich was so good, it was enough to make me give this the lodge a second shot. If we didn’t, I think I’d feel like the $35 probably wasn’t all that great of a deal for this place.
- Ostrich was an off the set menu and one of their specials for the day. Um. DELISH. I never had ostrich but so deeeeeelish. If you've never tried, you got-to! Similar to venisen. I think I ate most of it. Poor Ross only had a few bites…
- Garden Tomato Bisque “Chilled” with panzanella salad & basil pistou: one word: Blah.
- Wild Boar Roasted on the Bone w/ spicy fermented cabbage: My first time to have boar! Tasted so much like pork…. Also, so very disappointed in that I had three tiny tiny pieces. I was still very hungry after eating the meat since I didn’t like the cabbage.
- Coffee Crème Brûlée & Cardamom Madeleines: Pretty delicious! But Ross’ Bread pudding was better.
- Overall, atmosphere where you feel like you should be wearing mountain boots and red plaid flannel shirt . Layout of the place is very different. Service was fine. My big disappointment was that servings were so small. I will still hungry after eating this. Come on! We’re in Texas folks, meals come BIG!

Quattro – Four Seasons
Of the hotel restaurants, this was probably the best of the three weeks. Enough for me to recommend this for dinner club? Unfortunately no.
- Olive Oil House Cured Salmon with Fresh Peas, Morel Mushrooms and Tarragon Emulsion was good and not out of the park. Just very fresh smoked salmon which I love so I definitely enjoyed this dish.
- The guys had Cauliflower & Parmesan Gnocco Fritto and I have to say, these were better than my salmon. I was pleasantly surprised by this warm, fried little balls of flavor and juices.
- Grilled Lamb Steak w/rosemary Scented Risotto, Texas Goat Cheese. The goat cheese was kick a**. Love that stuff. YUM. While I usually love risotto, again a few hard kernels. What’s up with that? Lamb – eh, not good enough to leave a lasting impression on me. Still doesn’t compare to the lamb chops at Patranellas.
- Ross had the Oven Roasted Stripped Bass with little neck clams and other stuff. I was actually v. disappointed in this but was happy to tell Ross, I like my dish more!
- Texas Blueberry Crostada for dessert was good not memorable. - Overall atmosphere was again a hotel restaurant. Just not as fun or intimate. Service was good. Valet – not so good. Took almost 20 minutes for them to bring them our car… What up with that?

Feast is cool. The atmosphere here was kickin - I love houses that peeps have turned into a restaurant. This was another clear winner – I’d definitely come back here especially if you are looking for some hearty, England food and you have no plans of working out that day…
- French Fish Soup with Rouille and Croutons was good if you like fishy soup. Good thing I do but be careful if you don’t!
- Crispy Roasted Pork Belly w/Potato Cake and Red Cabbage with Apples – Oh. Meee. Geeee. So good but I love love love pork belly so you really can’t disappoint me. Also, this dish was enormous. Literally, I made a tiny dent and the leftovers alone were two more meals. Highly rec this if you go.
- Orange tart was okay. I picked out the orange slices and ate the tart alone.

So Masraffs totally took me by surprise! We tried this place several years ago and were definitely not impressed when coupled with the price tag. Didn’t even consider it for restaurant week but Ross’ mom wanted to try and woot, am I glad we did. The best restaurant we went to. It’s definitely on the verge of top five for me right now since this meal was so good. AND cute little Mr. Masraff came by the table to see how we liked the meal.
- Three Mushroom Ravioli w/Truffle Oil and Lemon Sage – it’s hard really to mess anything up with truffle oil and this didn’t disappoint. These raviolis were Ah-Mazing. Only downside – wish I had more b/c I could eat this for my main dish!
- Ross’ Garlic Seared Calamari w/Oyster Mushrooms and Soy Reduction was also surprising. No, no – don’t think of those silly fried calamari. We’re in Masraffs – where they are thick coins of breaded calamari that were again, Ah-Mazing! I’ve never had calamari this way and don’t know where else I would find this
- Paella Risotto w/Diver Scallop, Prawns, Rock Shrimp and Texas Dry Sausage Stewed in Saffron Stock with Carnarolli Rice. So good!
- Warm Triple Berry Bread Pudding w/White Chocolate, Blueberry Compote and Cream Cheese Mousse. I was SO full but managed to be a team player and finish this entire dish. Beware for those ordering this dish though – that fluffly, creamy blob of goodness sitting next to the bread pudding, not cream but cream cheese. A tad too much for me and I think they should have omitted this.