August 31, 2010

Restaurant Week 2010 Review

Once again, Houston Restaurant Week had its successes and failures.  We limited ourselves and didn't go crazy trying every single new restaurant on the much longer menu, but after one month, I realized I went to a lot!

After my restaurant week experience from last year, we stayed away from hotel restaurants and actually re-visited a few places where we recalled the food being quite delicious.  Some raised our opinion - ahem, Marks - while others were a tad disappointing - Mockingbird Bistro.

Below are my reviews in priority order. Marks topped the charts (I'm SO glad they are part of Restaurant Week now) and Canopy got last place.

1. Marks
You can't go wrong with Marks. I don't think I've ever not liked one of their dishes.  We were seated in the small private room at the very top and despite the overly pink decor (pink walls, pink tablecloth, pink napkins - and not a pretty pink but bubblegum pink!), experience and atmosphere was still great.  They also offered a wine pairing for $22 for each of the three dishes.  
-Seared Foie Gras with duck and quail leg.  DELICIOUS.  Marks changed my outlook on Foie Gras and I absolutely love it.  Ross had the lobster bisque and it was good but not as good as the foie gras.  He mentioned it was slightly too salty.
-Roasted duck with berries and couscous.  Duck was cooked perfectly and there was plenty!  You usually expect a few slices of meat but they served around 5-6 slides and then the duck leg as well.
-Seven Layer Chocolate Cake was good and went very well the port, but so were the other two options.  The lemon meringue was light, not overly tart or sweet.  The shortbread tart was warm, good balance of sweet and the crispy dough.

2. Del Friscos
This was my first time to go to Del Friscos and while it was good, service was a little lacking.  Atmosphere is a down side here - it's hard to get to since it's in the Galleria and you have to battle the traffic.  I'm assuming since it was HRW was why it was so packed but the service was minimal.  We finished our entrees and one of the waiters came our with our dessert to find that our empty entree plates were still sitting there...
-Dinner salad with avocado ranch dressing.  No surprise on the dinner salad, it's a dinner salad, but the dressing was pretty good.  I was basically a ranch dressing with an avocado puree mixed in - why haven't I thought about that before?  Will try to emulate at home.
-8 oz filet mignon with a HEAPING of mashed potatoes.  Meat was cooked perfectly and entirely consumed :)  Potatoes were very rich but good and it filled the plate.  
-Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel Sauce - My main disappointment of the night.  I didn't even finish or get through half.  I didn't like the sauce.  Still think Ruggles Green and Bayou City has the best bread pudding in town.

3. Catalan
Ross and I have heard of the amazing food at Catalan for quite some time from friends.  We just haven't had the chance to make it out there and since HRW extended, why not!  We also went to celebrate that Ross had finally taken his GMAT.  Hooray!  We order a few appetizers from the main menu as well.  It was a oink night for me as I had everything pork :) I's happy.
-Bone Marrow is delicious. There's was good but not amazing.  You scoop someout and put them on these buttered bread, which were a tad too butter.
-Pork skewers was one of the off the menu items and was good, not fantastics.  I think I liked the sauce more than the pork. 
-Pork belly was great! I love pork belly despite the fat but that's what makes it good. I've had pork belly since I was little so when its availabe, I'm usually on board.  The sauce was good and could be a tad overwhelming if you completely doused your pork in it.  But a small dabble with each bit - pretty good!  Ross has the boudin balls and they were pretty good too!  Still would pick the pork belly over them.
-Suckling pig, vietnamese style. I was surprised by how large the portions were!  There are two large pieces of pork (some with the skin and fat - yum) and it was combined with vietnamese noodles and one of my favorites veggies - brussel sprouts!  So good but I was so full and could not finish.
-Pecan bread pudding.  I would definitley get this over the others.  We tried all three and I think it was the best one. Again, still not as good as Ruggles or Bayo.  DO NOT get the panna cotta - it was one of the worst things I've had in a while. I had one of those moments where you want to spit it out but can't  so you reluctantly swallow as fast as you can.  

4. Mockingbird
This was actually a disappointment for me.  It's been a long while since I've been back but remember it being pretty fantastic.  It's a cute little restaurant with some great old world decor.  Dessert was the best thing about the meal.
-Cantaloupe Soup.  It was a tad too mealy/grainly for me and actually and I don't know what I expected to get when I ordered it.  The bits of the proscuitto was a tad odd and I dont think fit that well the texture of the soup.  Should have gotten the onion soup.
-Prime Steak was okay.  A tad mealy and after having Del Friscos, you definitely see the difference.  The fries, however, so good!
-Trio of Dessert of Bread pudding, chocolate truffle and creme brulee was the BEST part of the night.  Bread pudding the creme brulee was gone first.  Truffles are hard to eat since they are so dense.  Only able to take a few bites but those bites were quite good!

5. Canopy
HRW has the new deal where it's $20 for lunch of two dishes.  After looking through all the menus, Canopy caught my eye.  We went for a lunch while my sister was in town and it was okay - actually, not sure if it was worth the 20 bucks per person!  Interestingly, Ross and I went to Shade the week prior and had a disappointing experience.  Food was okay and not worth the price.  Found out that Canopy is a sister restaurant of Shade....
-Mussels in white wine sauce.  Sauce was minimal and they didn't even bring out bread to dip! Big no no.  The mussels were small and you only get 5!  Also, didn't get the sense that they are incredibly fresh.
-Pan roasted salmon was actually pretty good.  It was cooked perfectly and had that great crunch top on it.

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