Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Movies: Time Traveler's Wife

Patty Said:

Ok, I know I've been on a food kick, so now it's time to go back to the movie bucket of this blog.

Recently, we rented Time Traveler's Wife from iTunes. As David call it, it's a full time chick-flick, despite the fact that I thought it was intriging to see the science aspect of it. But, I'm a chick, I *heart* Eric Bana, so what the hey.

I find the idea of time traveling very intriguing, everyone from the middle ages to now have been trying to find a way to do it. The only way possible is via science fiction movies and fictional novels. Perhaps that is why it's so much more reaching of the movie to the audience that the book/movie is set in today's time. I didn't get to read the book the movie is based on, but perhaps I will in the future. Just to see if there are any gaps between book and movie.

While you find out early on that little Henry has this generic disorder that cause him to involuntary time travel. You also get the perspective of little Claire, how she grew up knowing this man name Henry. Can you imagine as a little girl, you have this man that you have a crush on that spends time w/ you and play with you all your life, to become the love of your life? It was very touch to me that she is so understanding because she knew of his 'problem' all along. Only if dating in real life is that tolerable. She understands that he will come and go as he can, but no matter what, he will come back to her. I find that very sweet to know no matter what they belong to each other.

From Henry's perspective, he thinks it's odd that this girl came up to him all googly eyed and crushing hard on him. Must feel weird, especially when you've never met her before. Yet, this person knows more about you than you've ever known. On top of all that, she knows your future before you've even experienced it. When Henry told his dad about his bethroth, the father was bitter and just know this is not going to work. Yet, Henry with all his confidence know that she will understand and she will be there, and she is his mate. (yes, this is a chick-flick) His conviction changed his dad, and even the wedding was a time-traveling experience. The future Henry married the current Claire, but it's the current Henry that got to dance w/ his wife for the first time at the reception. While at times confusing, both actors deliver what the plot calls for. The Love, the Hate, the Resentment, the Understanding... and all the emotions in between.

You wanted to be Henry because that allows you to know your future, but yet you don't want to experience the problems he's been thru. He knows what he knows (i.e. picking locks, how to steal, and how to break into places) out of necessity. Unlike Claire who grew up from this picture perfect estate to the picture perfect family. The only thing that was not picture perfect is her mate. Yet, she's willing to be there no matter what.

Both Eric Bana & Rachel McAdams are my favorite actors, so I know it's hard to find fault on them. The delivery of emotion, of all that needed for the characters are flawless. I do find that Eric Bana seems to be always intense, I wish I get to see the lighter side of his acting. We shall see.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Haven Houston

Several friends and I went to dinner at the newest greenest restaurant in town. Haven is a partnership of Randy Evans (executive chef), Debbie Jaramillo and Rhea Wheeler. Evans was the Executive Chef at Brennan's since 2003.

I think you will be surprised to find that even though Evans came from a famed steakhouse, steak is not a prominent feature of the menu. Everything in the menu is fresh from a local farm, if it's not fresh, they won't buy it. I can appreciate that tremendously, given that there's alot of bad news regarding how they forced feed animals by using bad chicken feed or grass that's been sprayed w/ pesticide. This going back to basic movement I can definitely appreicate.

As I said, the menu is all organic and local farmed goods. So, the items may change without notice, but you can see their menu on their website. Their appetizers also called Enticement, for me, it wasn't very enticing the day I visited. They had deviled eggs, seared Berkshire belly, shrimp corn dogs, and artisan meat and cheese. While I think it's very unique to have shrimp corn dogs, at a restaurant this caliber, I expected something fancier. Just as the deviled eggs, I know the Grove is trying to bring it back, but to me, its' still an item featured at Tupperware Parties and Baby Showers. I think I would've gone for the meat and cheese had I had to choose, but let's see what else is there.

Their soup and greens featured a Squash Bisque, torn greens, and tomato and mozzarella. Hmmm... nothing shakes me.

The main course, ah huh, something I like... They featured free ranged chicken with the bacon spaetzel, wood grilled loin, shrimp, tuna, and free ranged eggs (again). I think my husband would've been thrilled to see eggs featured as a main entree, but I'm sure the chef would have a clever twist to it.

I chose the free ranged chicken. They cooked it w/ the skin, and it was nice and juicy yet favorful, not a bit that's dried. It is laid on top of a bed of bacon spaetzel. I've never had that before, and for those of you who don't know, it is like a very finely diced potato and the texture is even softer if that's possible, and it's cooked w/ bacon which reminds me alot of ham hock. Along side was crispy brussels sprouts leaves. Let me tell you, if my mom and all moms cooked brussels sprouts like that, no kid will ever turn their nose up on the vegetable again. It was nice and crispy, like a chip, and who doesn't like their vegetable smell and taste like a chip?

Then comes dessert... all of us at the table all chose one of the dessert. They featured, pecan pie, layered chocolate cake, banana split, and cheesecake. Both the cheesecake and the pecan pie doesn't look anything out of the ordinary. The banana split is kinda cute, they have the ice cream and the corresponding sauce that goes along w/ it, but they presented it on a plate that has different compartment for each of the ice cream and the banana. So, they are splitted, and no co-mingling occur in the ice cream. I got the layered cake, it wasn't as I'd pictured it to be. In my mind, it'd be moised chocolate cake layered and have nice buttercream in between. The cake was dried, much like a biscotti texture. If you put some of the malted ice cream on top of the cake, which moisen it and added w/ the buttercream that would be acceptable, but for the first few bites, that was a surprise to me that it was so dry.

I wanted to point out how our waitstaff was awesome. He came from Captial Grille, which as I understood, alot of the staff came from well known places from the city, so the service is top notched and attentive doesn't even begin to described how well served we were. They made sure coffee was poured the correct way, which by the way, the coffee was french pressed. The tea choices, all 12 of them, were displayed nicely, brewed fresh on the spot, and no tea leaves was poured into the cup. That was just A+ all around.

The building was a certified green building, the wood was made of recycled wood, and the a/c is delievered thru a cloth 'pipe' with holes to make sure all areas get the same temperature. If they need to, all they have to do is unzip the cloth and throw it into the washer to avoid mold. Not only that, they have a rain gutter that catches the rain and that serves as reserve water for their own garden in the back of the restaurant.

The draw back is their location. Becuase they are hidden behind 3 other restaurants (Cafe Japon, Mai Thai, and Taco Cabana), it's not the easiest to find, even though it's easily accessible via the freeway, you just need to know where it is. The other thing is their parking, because they are located at the curve of the backway, they highly encourage valet parking. I find that alot of people chose to park at the abandoned Bennigan's parking lot and just walk. Some even parked over by Mucky Duck, couple streets over. So, that's something to consider.

2502 Algerian Way
Houston, TX, 77098

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ouisie's Table

If you've never been to Ouisie's Table you're truly missing a neat place for gourmet food. My first recollection of the place was my first job. The district manager loves that place, so inevitably we'll always have our annual luncheon there. Trust me, there's no complaint from me. The place is nice, tucked away, yet have ample rooms for different occasions. The food, of course is no comparison to anything I've ever had. Fast forward years later, I've been back there for an occasion or two. This past Xmas, I got a gift certificate to go back, and you don't need to ask me twice.

This time I went with couple of friends and all of us, self-proclaimed foodie-wannabes, had dinner there. First off, they serve you cute little bread as you wade thru pages up of wine menu. Watch out for the jalapeno roll, it does have a kick to it! My disappointment on their wine list is that they aren't as well rounded as I thought. I know not everyone likes to drink what I drink, but I expected there to be a representative from the category. But alas, they were catering to the Shraz and Merlot drinkers. They don't even have a cocktail menu.

I had the veal and my friends had the steak. I've never had anything bad there, so nothing bad to write about. Plus, it's been a few weeks, so details are a tad fuzzy. I do remember that the dessert was great and the waitstaff attmpted to be formal, but there were points that were lacking. First off, ladies should always be served first, and the coffee should be hot instead of warm.

My advise about going to Ouisie, always check out the Blackboard Special. The chef shines on dishes he can play up the seasonal anything. If you go there, make sure you leave ample time for traffic, they are at the edge of the Galleria traffic. Don't let the bar intimidate you, they serve full everything and also a full menu. Don't feel bad if you want to ask for a tour of the restaurant, they do have different rooms with different personalities. They also grow alot of the herbs they use right there at their garden.

Ouisie's Table
3939 San Felipe Dr.
Houston, TX 77027

Reservations highly recommended. $4 valet

Monday, November 2, 2009

Vic & Anthony's Downtown

So, we had a bday dinner for our friend Holly. Somehow the idea of steakhouse was in our head and Vic & Anthony's came to mind.

The place was gorgeous, marble floor, beautiful staircase, and wood everywhere. It was gorgeous and our waiter was attentive to us and our quirks. I don't know if you have a chance to check out the restaurant websites, but lately, alot of them started to have Stimulus Dining plans. That is: a deal for eating at the restaurant, for instance, Vic & Anthony's has a $45 deal where you get 3 courses, and none of the choices are shabby at all.

We started off w/ Chips & Strings, which is really their version of potato chips & shoestring onion rings. Though, I'm sure it's homemade everything. It was delicious, plus we were all hungry, so we cleaned the plate with no problrm. I had the Lobster Bisque, which was a tad tangy-ier than I'd like. Nice lump of lobster meat, which is truly what I enjoyed most. Second course, I had Scallops. I know what you're thinking, you're at a steakhouse, have steak, not seafood. But, see here, I know that most 99% of the steakhouses also have the best seafood, I had to do it. Otherwise, my choice would've been the 9oz Filet Au Poivre. Anyway, my jumbo scallops came with noodles and a side, I picked Au Gratin. I hardly touched the potato, but trust me, by then I was so full and wanted to save room for dessert, I basically ate all the scallops and skipped the noodles and the potato. For dessert, I always order Creme Brulee to measure between restaurants. To me, it's the most 'basic' thing that a good restaurant should do well in. Do I know how to make it? No. Does my tastebuds knows the difference? You betcha.

The creme brulee came on a plate. Yes, you read right, a plate, not bowl or a dish, on a plate. So, that presents a very interesting situation. You don't get the depth like you're used to, but you get the spread more than you're used to. Either way, I loved it, the sugar crust was done just right, you don't have to crack hard at it, and you can see the vanilla bean mixed into the brulee. It was delish!

It is definitely worth returning to that place, maybe not before a ballgame (it is literally across from the Ballpark). Wine list was gigantic, I just lost patience after the white wine. But, if you're a wine-o, I'm sure you'll appreciate the variety they offer there. I was disappointed that they didn't have a drinks menu, or I was just expecting they have some exotic martini to go w/ the steaks.

Vic & Anthony's
1510 Texas Ave
Houston, TX 77002

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tiny Boxwood

So, I've been hearing about Tiny Boxwood that has great dinner. I didn't know much about it. But, couple of times we've gone, it's so packed that discouraged us of going.

We finally got in! Seating at the bar is key, service is not less than we would at a regular table. If not, the host would definitely do his best to fit you in. Our menu was a summer menu that coincided with the Hatch Chili festival. While we didn't try the fried hatch chili, our food weren't bad either.

I had their summer sangria, it wasn't open empowering with alcohol and yet fill with summer sweetness. Then, I had their crabcake pizza. It was a thin crust that you can tell they made in house. They also cooked it w/ their stone oven, and you can taste the wood, it's so flavorful mixed in with the olive oil. The crabmeat was generous, and you have some every bite.

Then on another occasion, I had breakfast there. Breakfast was much more madness than dinner. People came in for coffee and their muffins. I had 2 of their breakfast tacos with eggs, cheese and chirizo. The tacos weren't big at all, so having 2 was definitely a good call. The salsa they gave you are not spicy if anything gave the taco taste. My friend had their quiche. You can see that they made the crust there as well, but the portion was smaller than we expected.

To top of, a chocolate cookie is a must, make sure you get some on your way out.

Tiny Boxwood
3614 W. Alabama at Saint St.
Houston, TX 77027
http://www.thompsonhanson.com/ (click Cafe)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

HRW: Monarch at Hotel Zaza

Well, guess it's not really truly an HRW visit and I'll get to that. Myself and couple of co-workers got there early so we sat at the bar for a drink. When we were ready to be seated, the hostess sat us against the wall between 2 big tables. What's worst was that the wall we were facing was where the servers had their water jugs and extra utensils. So, the server was reaching over our heads to get stuff.

We of course, asked the hostess to reseat us. The poor girl basically was told by the head hostess that it has all be planned and basically can't move us. Mind you this is still early for dinner. There's a table in a corner and we don't even mind being stuck in a corner, but truly a 3 top should really get a 4 top table, not squeezed on a 2 top. Mind you, the 2 top isn't truly for 2, it can seat 2 but we've seen a twosome seating at a 2 top they ran out of room to put their drinks and food.

Of course, I escalated it to the manager and the guy didn't bat an eye and reseated us immediately. I must say sitting at a table for 4 truly for 4 is very spacious. I'm sure that totally messed up the hostess' arrangements, but they also under estimated us. They thought we were coming in just to do the prix fixe and weren't going to generate alot of money off of the tab, when in fact we ordered off the menu. Honestly, their menu looks better than the prix fixe. This should teach servers and hostesses alike that when we are going to Restaurant Week, it is really to attract patrons to the restaurant, but don't write us off by giving us bad service or sticking us against a wall. By the time we were done, we actually had a similar tab to what we would have w/ the prix fixe.

Alright, on to the food. Like I was saying that the prix fixe wasn't that interesting. So all of us ordered off menu. We started w/ their nacho. That was yummy and it was made with sirlon and you can tell it was puree sauce that really makes the nachos. That said, one of my coworker ordered filet, another one ordered salmon, and I ordered scallop. The filet was done well, the twice cooked potato wasn't that done, it was still crunchy, so I'm not sure how it's twice cooked, but it was still crunchy. The salmon and the potato was fine, the scallop was recommended cooked medium, and it was good, but the mashed potato was better.

Sadly, their dessert looked good, but has no taste to it. I've never leave a dessert unfinished. I had the nutella crepe, I kindly talked the server to get me the crepe from the prix fix, it's not usually served. It was like a little omelet shaped with cheese inside, with the nutella drizzled over it. It wasn't warm. I don't appreciate any crepe that's cold, and traditionally that means it's not cold. One of my friend ordered pomegranate creme brulee, and it has a very thin sugar crust, and the brulee doesn't have any real brulee texture to it. It tasted more like a lemon bar than a brulee or anything w/ pomegranate in it. The strawberry cheesecake was much like any artificial cheesecake you taste. It came w/ strawberries w/ what made out to be romanoff sauce. The strawberries were good the sauce was not what romanoff is supposed to be. I'll just call that a wash.

Drinks were delicious, wasn't enough to bring me back, maybe for happy hour but not for another dinner. A word of warning, if you pull up to the hotel side of the place and valet (which seems to be the only option around there), the hotel side charges you $12 for parking. The restaurant side charges you $6 for valet. So, be careful which side you pull up.

Monarch at Hotel Zaza
5701 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 526-1991

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HRW: Post Oak Grill Uptown

This is my 5th Restaurant Week venture... I haven't heard much about Post Oak Grill but they are quite reputable in Houston, so figured it can't really go wrong. The only complaint is the traffic. I had forgotten about the constructions on San Felipe between 610 & Post Oak Blvd. It makes getting there a little more stressful than it's necessary.

That said, once I got there, we got top treatment. My friend and I both started w/ a drink, she got the Chocolate Cake Martini that really has the cake taste to your pallet. I had a glass of wine.

Then on to our prix fixe:

Both of us had the tomato salad instead of the soup. While I'm a big fan of crab meat and welcome that in a salad, I'm just not a big fan of corn something-or-another soup. The dressing was like yet tasty, so no complaint here. My friend did say that she wished she had a tad more dressing w/ her salad, which I can totally understand without having to lick the plate. Then we got the Intermezzo which was a papaya sorbet, which was nice, because cleansing my pallet or not, it's telling me that I'm prepared for the next exciting taste to come.

For our entree' both of us went in different directions. I had wanted to surf and turf, and instinctively, that's what I would've gone for, but the idea of Duck Confit in a crepe just too curious to give that a try. So, I did. My Roasted Airline chicken actually tasted better with the skin on to capture the flavor than off. By itself, the chicken tasted dry, but with the oil and the skin it's brings out the flavor that didn't get to seep in all the way to the meat. The Duck Confit was interesting. There weren't enough fat for the duck, but it's wrapped in crepe and soaked in wine sauce. It just has a good nice easy going taste to go along w/ the duck.

Then onto our dessert: my friend ordered the banana foster and bread pudding, while I got my lavendar creme brulee' and chocolate souffle'. To my friend's disappointment, she didn't see the banana foster part of the desssert, we weren't sure if it wasn't brought out, or it was supposed to be mixed in. Her bread pudding, however, was good. While, I had 2 distinct little plates for mine. The Chocolate Souffle was dryer than I'd like. Plus, aren't the feature of souffle is that you poke the top and it deflates to late the air out? Mine was hard as a rock and it did crumbled. But my creme brulee' did not disappoint. It has a nice texture and the scent of lavender enhance my taste more than interrupting it. I'm a big fan of creme brulee' if it's a different way to present this old classic I'm definitely welcome the change.

As with my dining tradition, I also had a cup of cappuccino to go w/ my dessert, and the nice people at Post Oak Grill was kind enough to give me a biscotti. It was orange biscotti dipped on both end, one with white chocolate and one w/ milk chocolate. However, when I dipped it into my cofee, it quickly came apart. So, that was interesting.

When we got to paying our bills, our server gave us another chocolate chewy cookie. It was nice texture, like and fluffy and chewy all at the same time. I can deal with that anytime.

Overall, the place is fancy, service is top notch, they are not in a hurry and neither are you, type of place. They do let us take our time, as do their diners often are... taking their time; of course, to enjoy their fine meal. They do have a pianist to play mood music but not too loud where you felt like it's taking away from the meal.

They do have a bar next door, and while I haven't checked that out looks like it's nice and I can imagine to food to be just as good. Parking is not as easy to dicepher during peak hours, since it is shared w/ the office buildings nearby, I would suggest paying the $3 for valet, that way it's one less thing you have to worry about.

Post Oak Grill - Uptown
1415 S. Post Oak Lane
Houston, Texas 77056

Monday, August 17, 2009

HRW: La Colombe D'Or

Well, let's face it, I chose this place because of the
, I know nothing about their food or their style, so I am there to 'eat the building'. Rather, to buy into it's ambience and the mystery from the years of driving by this place.

To me, this place always seems to be the cliche' shi shi type place attached to a hotel, known for doing weddings. Well, when you get this type of build up in your head, it's very hard to sit down and be disappointed. I sat down and the servers seems to be in a hurry by the servers. We sat down, and had a look see thru the menu. Their cocktail is about $9 a piece, and it's stronger than I'm used to, which I guess I'm getting my money's worth, if you want to call it that.

For the prix fixe, I had the French Onion soup, after all, they are a French restaurant. The soup wasn't the best I've ever had, I've had better at Ruggles Green. They had 2 pieces of bread in the soup, and a few strands of onions. The Gruyere cheese was thick alright, but doesn't mean it's flavorful.

The entree' they had a choice of Hazelnut crusted Chicken w/ angel hair pasta, fish of some sort and tenderloin. I chose the tenderloin with a wine reduction, and my friend had the chicken. It's sad to say, but I would've preferred the chicken. Not that my tenderloin was bad, but there was something about that chicken that is much more better tasting than my tenderloin. Like I said, it's not bad, just je ne sai qua.

Then comes dessert, I made yet another mistake. Traditionally, I order the creme brulee' that's my standard yardstick to measure the restaurant. But see, they offered poached pear, which sounded exotic with the red wine sauce and saffron. The pear came with sorbet, and to my disappointment, the pear was cold cold cold. In my mind, poached pear is warm, which would go well w/ the sorbet, but it wasn't the case. It was nice and cold. Hmm...

I like said in the beginning, the waiters weren't the most attentive for a restaurant like this caliber. It was a nice touch to have the owner stop by to say hello and ask how are things going, but the food and the service just doesn't make up for it. As a matter of fact, I wonder how they sustain business on a normal week, where their food is not up to the class as the place built up to be, and looks like their hotel suite portion was not being occupied. Well, we're really there to check out the building more than check out the food. But now, I know how uninspiring the food is, it just satisfied the curiosity.

La Colombe D'Or
3410 Montrose Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77006

Sunday, August 16, 2009

HRW: Cavatore

Despite it's annoying website. This is a truly unique place. Who would've thought this transitioning neighborhood would have a neat little place like Cavatore? This is right on Ella near TC Jester. You can't miss it, it is actually a Texas Style barn. I wouldn't say it's the traditional red barn, but it's more like a old house that has add-ons throughout the years.

When we arrived, there's a bar and a side room, several side rooms and a main room where the pianist was playing. The whole set up was kinda weird, we were seated in a room that has 4 tables comfortably, right next to their skinny wine room. The entire set up was very kitchy, not the old mod way but Italian plus Texas mix. There's art work, photos, news clipping of random stuff, stained glass windows and several other memorabilia.

I once again did the Houston Restaurant Week prix fixe. I was told that their table-side Caesar was a must, which by the way, if you're the only person that ordered it, they will not make it table side, but I will say that it's fresh and it tasted it. The main course I ordered the Veal Marsala. I haven't had anything Marsala for the longest time. It was pipping hot, there were 4 small medallions of veal, and I do mean small. There were more mushrooms than veal, and there was more sauce to cover the entire plate to where I can't see if there's any meat left on the plate. They also on the side has asparagus or spinach. I also didn't know that they were going to bring out a small side of rigatoni with tomato sauce.

Of course, the place was famous for their Tiramisu, so I had to have it. It's good, but I didn't think it was any better or worst than the Tiramisu I had from Carrabas.

Overall, I think the food is decent. Not the best Italian I've ever had, but not the worst either. I like it fine, which is what alot of review I've read had said. My thing is that, by the glance of the menu, it's definitely a place that wants to be fancy, they have their own sunroom for crying out loud. On the other hand, the menu prices is way too high for the ktich and normal Italian food you get. This is definitely something you take out-of-town family and friends to, but not really for that price.

The pianist was awesome, they will play top 40 songs to Broadway songs... that's really set the mood. The place is totally causal like the neighborhood despite the price tag. They say you should make a reservation, but on a weekday, you definitely don't need one. On a Friday/Saturday, it may be a possibility of it being full, but it wouldn't be a long wait, because they do have tons of tables. Just a matter of hanging out for a little while.

Cavatore Italian Restaurant
2120 Ella Blvd.
Houston, TX 77008

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

HRW: 17

This is Houston Restaurant Week night #2. Tonight's pick was 17 inside the Alden Hotel (formerly the Sam Houston Hotel). It's part of downtown that's being revitalized.

The hotel is definitely shi-shi, the waiting area of the restaurant is the lobby, where they were happy to get my friend a drink while she's waiting for me. At first I thought 17 was because it's on the 17th floor, I kinda figured that that's their rooftop, where they frequently have weddings. But, turns out 17 is because back in the day, there would be 17 different lines of trains converge in Houston, that's why they named it 17. There's a better story on the menu, so, go try it and read it for yourself.

Anyway, we were offered the prix fixe, and as it turns out, it also serves as a preview for the new executive chef, Chip Hight's, fall menu preview. I find that very exciting and felt very exclusive. It's nice to preview anything before it became dime a dozen, so I applaud that.

We also had a very good waiter, Diana, she remembers what we ordered and explain the pairing also very attentive. While the pairing was not my thing, most of their wine were too dry for me. She brought over this amuse-bouche where it's corn sorbet with lime segment. The corn sorbet was good, but once you had the lime segment, which was dipped in salt, you definitely need the sorbet to tone down the salt and lime zesty-ness.

For starter, I had the Seared Peach with Salmon that came with crème fraîche & micro greens. The weird part for me, and also very unexpected was the salt around the plate. The Salmon with the salt worked ok but I wasn't sure with the peach. Turns out, if you mix it w/ the creme and the greens, add the peach, the salmon and the salt, that's actually works. I'm not a cook, can't tell you why it works but it does. I was sorta expecting a small piece of salmon, but it was done in tartare style over chopped peach, that was interesting and not bad either.

My friend Steve & Krista happened to get their Coastal Napoleon which was fried green tomato, gulf lump crab, remoulade sauce & micro greens. They managed to get a nice consistency of chips on the tomatoes, and put the crab meat in between the tomato slices. It's a nice little sandwich.

As for entree, we all had the deconstructed beef wellington, it was tenderloin, roasted radish, bordelaise with wild mushrooms. My oh my, let me tell you. The sauce is to die for, there was a small piece of pasty over the beef, and together with the sauce, it's just delightful. I love it. Of course, what I like about the dish too is the small piece of something, not sure if that was truffle or fois gras over it, but it was delish.

For dessert, all of us got something different. I had the peach souffle, which is totally not like the traditional souffle I had expected. It's only the top half, but was done in more of a meringue than a true souffle. I would have to say, though, when you cut into it, it doesn't deflate, it is like a pillow that lets you cut in, and it'll bounce back. The 'peach chips', it's more like drizzling of peach bit, there's no real piece of peach around, but you can taste the essence.

in Alden Hotel
1117 Prairie (at San Jacinto St.)
Houston, TX

Monday, August 10, 2009

HRW: Arcodoro

This week begins the Houston Restaurant Week, where all these Houston premier restaurant puts together a prix fixe menu for $35. It's a great price when entree and dessert already cost that much. The prix fixe usually have 3 courses if not 4 or more choices than you can wrap your stomach around it.

Tonight's choice is Arcodoro in the Galleria area:

Patty said~

The decor is definitely fancy. They have outside seating where you can definitely enjoy a nice glass of wine on a good weather day. Unfortunately, those days are very limited in Houston, so you can take a guess on that. They have a casual seating and a dining area as well.

I had done the HRW prix fixe, which consisted of the Salmon Carpaccio, Paella, and Tiramisu. They, of course, have other choices as well and you can definitely order off the menu. The Carpaccio is not as good as I thought it'd be. I'd like the salmon to be colder than room temperature. I can taste the oil and the frisee' but not the apple. So, that ruined it for me. The Paella was good and flavorful. The shellfish was more fresh than I anticipated. Tiramisu is delightful, but I must say, I've have had better. So, I'm not sure if that's a good judge. Since most of my judging is based on creme brulee's not on tiramisu. Guess I'll have to go back and try it all again.

Overall, food is good, not the best I've ever had. Though I've never had Sardinian food before, which has heavy Italian influence (because duh, they're right next to each other). The price of their dishes aren't cheap but I would say the quality is worth it.

5000 Westheimer
Houston, Texas 77056
reservation is recommended

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Original Marini's Empanada House

So, I've been reading about the Empanada House on Houston Press and ever since I've been jonesing it...  I'm not usually an empanada person usually but who can deny good food?

I drove by the shopping center where I'm familiar with the Chili's, 713 Sushi, Masala Wok, and Marble Slab on Westheimer & Briar Park.  But I don't recall seeing anything about an Empanada House.  Well, that's because it's tucked in behind formerly Wolfgang Puck Express (which is now something different altogether).  It is a tiny spot, but also quite deceiving because it looks small but tons of seating for inside and out.  

Empanada runs about $2.25 which is cheap for dinner, if you think about it.  The dessert ones even cheaper.  I had the beef & spinach to start for savory empanada.  Let me tell you, the beef one has this nice juice to it, and with their zesty sauce, it's just awesome and wonderful.  The spinach one has cheese inside and it was a nice mesh.  The dessert, oh boy, the dessert... I had a banana carmel, it's nice, yummy, warm and gooey.  Word of warning, it does get messy.  Between the powder sugar and the carmel, I was a dripping mess.

They also have sandwiches and salads, vegetarian friendly food.  Definitely affordable and good not to mention yummy and fried.  If you get the savory one, you HAVE TO get the zesty sauce.  Definitely going back!

If you are hanging out at the Vintropolis, they will deliver.  I know that you can order online too.  If you're in Katy area, they have a store out that way too.  Go check them out.

The Original Marini's Empanada House
10001 Westheimer #2570
Houston, TX 77042

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Patty says:

They finally opened a Smash Burger in Houston.  So, we went on their opening day.  It was busy and the place is smaller than I thought it'd be.  Their 1/3lb burger is just right, not too heavy, not too soagy; that's because it's never frozen.  Yay for fresh meat!  Wow, that goes in so many levels.

They have their own version of fries and it was made with olive oil, rosamary and something else.   It's pretty good.  I think the best part is that they make their milkshake w/ Haagen Daas ice cream and boy oh boy, it's smooooooth.  YUM!

I think the best part is that after all that indulgence, I didn't feel like a piece of dead weight like you usually feel after a meal like that.  So, I chalk it up as good, thumbs up!

Smash Burger
5220 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, Texas 77005

open 10-10

Friday, July 31, 2009

Carinos Wine Pairing Dinner

My friend was telling me about Carinos monthly wine dinner. It was, it's specific to that location, and it was super yummy... They had a wine pairing to each course, and let me tell you, I'm not much for wine that's not Reisling or Moscato, the pairing was done very nicely.  

I *heart* the Chicken Pomodoro Salad, I could've easily finish that and wish that more places would do salad that way, I'll definitely eat all my greens then. Second course was Green Chile and Chicken Lasagna, you can barely taste the chile and can definitely taste how flavorful the chicken is, yes, even if it's inside the lasagna. Now, the rest were just so-so for me... they had a Burgundy Rosemary Sirlon with angel hair pasta. You can taste the butter, but the beef were a tad chewy-ier than I liked.  

The dessert was a Pomegranate Orange Tiramisu. So, when I hear it's Tiramisu, I naturally think it has something to do w/ chocolate and coffee. But nay, it's really bright and orange, and the only part that is 'tiramisu', it's really the cake part that's soaked. Now, the Sangria, however, was yummy! My problem is that by the time we got to that course, I'm as red as the red light district. I just really didn't want to drink anymore. I'm not even going to go into the fact that all the butter and wine totally added 3 lbs to me... but it's worth it.  

It's a monthly deal and the price is not bad, about $31 meal & tax. So, I wouldn't mind doing it again. It is a trek out for us because it's past the paper store I used to work at, so it's about 23/24 miles from home. But it was yummy!

21875 Katy Freeway
Katy, TX 77450 

Phone: 281-398-5646

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Grove

Patty says:

Last night after the Cirque show, a bunch of friends and I went to the Grove.  I've been dying to try it for a while now.  It sits on the edge of the Discovery Park and it's ran by one of the Delgrande's, so you know good food abound.  They have a nice list of drinks, and 4 kinds of Mojitos.  I tried the Bubble Gum, and while it doesn't taste like bubble gum at all, it is sweeter than the normal mojito, which really means is right for my sweet tooth.  

If you are ever the wine and cheese type, I must recommend the Grove Picnic Platter, which has meat and cheese of assortment on it.  They had salami, proscuito and another meat mixed w/ mashed potato, that was interesting but yummy.  There's some salad as well as pickle, and of course cheese.  I don't know my cheese, so I'm not going to embarrassed myself here.

By recommendation, we tried the skirt steak.  It was excellent and delicious... It was a very good, it has a smokey, woodsy taste.  The meat wasn't tough at all, it was nicely matched up w/ the tomatillo sauce.  It comes with chili cheese fries but let me tell you, there was neither chili nor cheese.  Actually, that's not true, there's some cheese, but not real chili.  It was shredded beef on top of the fries and it has melted cheese on top of it.  

By the time we had the steak I can't fit in my favorite part of dessert, so no info there.  But, I can only imagine that it can't be bad.  :)

The Grove
1611 Lamar 
Houston, TX 77010
Phone: (713)337-7321


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coco Crepes

Patty says:

Don't know what came over me, but I was all of a sudden thinking about crepes.  I *heart* crepes.  Mostly because it goes so well with Nutella.  Super yum!  So, I must recommend Midtown's Coco's.  For you crepe lovers, they have savory, breakfast, and of course dessert crepes.  They're reasonably priced especially when you're like me who wants to customize everything, that's the perfect way to do it.

For you non-crepe people, not to worry, you can still get paninis and soup and salad.  I've had their panini before, it's nice, but coffee is definitely better.  They have Coco-cinno, that's a good thing to try on a hot day.

CoCo's Crepes:
218A Gray Street
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 521-0700

Saturday, July 18, 2009

St. Regis Tea

Patty says:

So, I was doing a belated Mother's Day thing for my mom.  She requested to go to St. Regis for their tea service.  That hotel previously was a Ritz-Carlton which was known for the tea service.

I would say the experience was as close to a true English Tea as you'll get in Houston.  They did the whole sandwiches, scones, desserts, and of course tea.  

First of all, you need to make reservation to attend.  At first I was thinking, how snooty... but once I arrived, I understand why.  There was about 6 or so tables that they can seat.  So, that leaves no room for walk-ins.  As I had mentioned at the  beginning, it's a belated Mother's Day thing, that was because I couldn't get us in until now.

So, when you arrive, you're greeted by the butler, Charles.  He seats you and explain to you how it works.  He brings you sandwiches with desserts and highly recommend that you get the scones before you get the desserts.  The reason being that you want the scone to be nice and warm.  Then, he explains the 3 types of tea they have, they got a St. Regis blend which was 3 different types of tea blended together, which is said to be refreshing for summertime.  Then, there's 2 other herbal tea, forgot one of them, the other was raspberry.  

They have the traditional cucumber sandwich but it's open-faced.  They also have the salmon sandwich.  They also have a provolone & cheese sandwich and a cheese sandwich.  My favorite of all, is the chicken salad one.  That is to die for, yum!

The scone is a huge warm gigantic scone with devon cream.  I'm used to having either Lemon Curd or clouded creme which has more taste than their devon, but supposedly they are flown in from England weekly.  Hmm...  I said hmmm because it didn't taste like more than hand whipped whip cream.  It doesn't have as much taste as the other creme I've had in other tea services.

The butler was right, the St. Regis blend goes w/ the scone very well.  Of course, they also have dessert.  But by the time I got to dessert, I can't squeeze much more in.  They had a small fruit tart, cream puff, and a lemon meringue tart.  Charles brought 4 serving for the 3 of us, which was fine by me... more to share.  Double yum!  The kindest thing Charles had done was that he knew we can't finish it all and boxed it all up.  Even if we ate some of it already, he replenished it for us to make sure we all get to enjoy it later. 

Overall, service was superb, mind you, it's Charles against 6 tables full of guests, he does have a helper but he's still the one that come and give you the schpiel,  about the food and tea.  Food is good in some spots, tea is fine.  But the service is absolutely divine which makes the experience so much more delightful.

Like I said, call ahead to make reservation and make sure you have 2 hours to spare, you wouldn't want to rush thru your tea service.

St. Regis Hotel, Houston
Tea Lounge
Service Wednesday - Saturday, 3-5p
Reservations Required (they're not kidding)
(713) 403-2631