Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mockingbird Bistro Wine Dinner event

So, I subscribed to Cleverly's Newsletter after the Houston Restaurant Week last fall. And I came across her announcement on the Mockingbird Bistro Wine Dinner. I've heard of it, just didn't know what it entails and been dying to try that out.

I grabbed my friend Steve and off we went. As you arrive, you can see that they kept alot of the Quasimodo's decor but with a new coat of paint and nice carpet. If you recall, the restaurant before the arrival of Mockingbird was Quasimodo, which was owned by the same guy who owns the building. I remembered because I used to live down the street and I would go to the laundromat next door. I would see him go between the restaurant and the laundromat, and we think that he and his wife live upstairs. All I remember was he used to play the 740AM radio and was grumpy. I would put a load of laundry in, eat dinner at Quasimodo and then go back and put my clothes in the dryer. That worked out for me.

Anyway, Mockingbird moved in around 2002 or 2003, because they just opened and shortly after I got married and moved out of the neighborhood. While I envied the diners at the new, chi-chi restaurant. I'm sure they were wondering why some girl carrying her laundry strolling right in front of them while they eat. That has got to be very very odd.

Fast forward to last night, I finally can afford to come as a diner. And it was well worth it. I was going to take a picture of each of the dish, but since we were in a small room that would've been obvious and embarrassing. The menu is as follows:

First Course
Pancetta Wrapped Jumbo Scallop with roasted pear and peach petite salad. Pinot gris/vanilla vinaigrette

Wine pairing: 2007 Belle Vallee Pino Gris

Second Course
Duck 3 Ways
-seared breast with dried fruit compote
-leg confit w/ farro risotto
-torchon of duck foie gras/raspberry aspic

Wine pairing: 2007 Belle Vallee Reserve Pinot Noir

Main Course
Duo of Colorado Lamb
-grilled lamb ribeye with wild mushrooms chevre maitre d'hotel butter
-slow braised lamb shank with peruvian lima beans swiss chard and prune/apricot gremolata

Wine pairing: 2006 Belle Valle Grand Cuvee Pinot Noir

Wild Berry Cobbler with Belle Vallee Port ice cream

Wine Pairing: 2004 Belle Vallee Pinot Noir Port

So, first off, I'm not a true wine connoisseur, so I cannot throw out adjectives like robust, fruity, aromatic...etc at a drop of a hat. That part, might be lost on me, but the food doesn't. What they didn't put on the menu was during the reception, they did tuna tartare, grilled lamb chop, and crab leg lollipop in orange sauce; all of them goes very well with their Pinot Gris. (In case you haven't figured out, this is a wine sponsored dinner, that's why all the wine came from the same winery.)

The jumbo scallop was nice and fresh, along w/ the roasted pear and peach, that really brought out the pancetta. However! When you eat it w/ the vinaigrette, it brought out flavors that is excitement. And when you pair it w/ the pinot gris, it really neutralizes the acid and makes everything neutral and happy.

The Duck 3 ways was definitely my favorite part. I was already impressed by the surprising flavors from the risotto, but to add the duck breast, it just builds the yummyness in my mouth. I liked the breast was seared but you can still taste the marinate and the fruit on top of it, made the meat sweeter than it already is. But, the best part of all was the foie gras. I don't care what your view on foie gras is, that foie gras was super awesome and I haven't been able to stop talking about it. It has a thin cracker at the bottom, a small portion of foie gras, and topped w/ a piece of raspberry aspic. What the heck is an aspic? I don't know, but it was good and that's good enough for me. Can I get more????

The main course was the lamb. The lamb w/ wild mushroom, and let me tell you, that sauce and the mushroom really made the lamb ribeye. You don't see lamb ribeye very often so it's definitely a treat to have something so rear. The braised lamb shank was really shredded and mixed w/ the beans and prune and the apricot gremolata mix laid comfortably on a square pastry. It totally made me want to pick it up and devour. Of course, I didn't, but I wanted to.

The dessert was a berry cobbler, but if seems more like a layer of fresh fruit at the bottom, a cookie-like top dusted w/ powder sugar, and the special port ice cream, which I can taste there's cinnamon in it. That was delicious. I'm still gaga over the foie gras, but the ice cream cobbler combo does hit the spot. The port wine that was paired was very strong in terms of alcohol content, so I backed off on that, especially when I don't have a designated driver with me.

Dinner was nice, I was a little apprehensive about the open seating. I don't care to be forced into mingling with others, I wanted to have a relax and enjoyable dinner. Luckily, our table were seated w/ cool guests which makes conversations easy and comfortable. To that, I thank my lucky stars that brings people together serendipitously. The cost is $125, gratuity of $25 is tagged on, plus tax you're lookinag at $136 and change. Obviously, this is not something you do every night, nor does Mockingbird offer them 'that' frequently. Maybe once a quarter, so a treat once in a while is ok.

I do look forward to other menu items at Mockingbird, they have superb servers and staff, their chefs are amazing. I'd definitely go back, wine dinner or not.

Mockingbird Bistro
1985 Welch St.
Houston, Texas 77019
Tel. 713.533.0200
Reservations recommended

bring change for valet parking.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Del Frisco Steakhouse

A bunch of friends and I went to Del Frisco for a birthday dinner. They can accommodate dinner for large party for sure. Their downstair bar can be seen as cozy, though the seating for bar wasn't alot. The seating upstairs however, was ample. Just the stairs makes you feel like you're about to experience something important.

As the evening progress, you see the entire restaurant fills up. That was surprising to me because it was a Monday night. But if you look around, you quickly realize why. Most of them were business men out to discuss business over dinner. They are all probably staying at the many nearby hotels and just trying to catch a good steak. Either way, the gorgeous window over look Westhimer street at night was breath-taking. For a mere moment, you may have thought that you've escaped to some exotic city, anywhere but Texas. It was indeed gorgeous.

Let's talk food, shall we?! The first thing we all made fun of was the menu and its giant font. Several of us in the party didn't even need glasses. Haha... I ordered a 8oz filet mignon. That meat was nice and good for me. The others in my party ordered the Governor's Filet which was a 6oz Filet Mignon plus Chateau Potatoes (aka mashed potato), another person got a Peppercorn Steak, that was really full of peppercorn. They have some very yummy sides, but the complain was that they like to serve it all the way around. What happens when the person just want the side dish to his or herself?

Their dessert was good, but nothing so extraordinary that makes me return for more, which was like the steak. Don't get me wrong, it was good, I love my meat. But, nothing makes me want to make that as a destination to return time and again. I will refer people to it, simply because of it's location, which was centralized for businessman and tourist alike. Otherwise, I'm sticking with my steak at Morton's.

Del Frisco's Houston
5061 Westheimer Road (side of Galleria)
Houston, TX 77056
Del Frisco's Website

Monday, February 8, 2010

Celebrity Cupcakes

Well, I've been hearing about the Celebrity Cupcakes in Rice Village Aracade for a while. While I don't bake cupcakes, I've crocheted them, and I'm now learning to craft soap in shape of cupcake... I *heart* cupcake. I would say I'm a connoisseur... I was there when Cookie Jar was around, and had a cupcake cake for my husband. I order frequently from Sugar Baby's. I even travel outside of the Loop to go to Ooh La La in Cinco Ranch. Of course, who can forget about Crave Cupcakes? Which, ahem, where the heck is my Sprinkle cupcakes??? I have to go to Dallas for my Sprinkles.

Anyway, back to Celebrity. The building it's housed is gorgeous, brand new and all around pretty. It's tucked in from the main street which is smart because we all can appreciate parking on site. It's right behind Bistro des Amis on Morningside & University. The decor is nice, dark wood trim with nice eggshell painted walls with gigantic windown pane doors. It's quite lovely.

When you get in, however, you realize how small the place really is. Looks like the kitchen is right open for all to see, which is fine by me, as I'm sure the aroma when fresh cupcakes comes out is wonderful. The display is very chic and very much the type of cupcake display cases you've seen at nicer stores. The lady that was there, I can only assume is the owner, wasn't all that friendly. I wasn't greeted when I walked it, it was just me and her, which also worries me on a good weekend day and a business like that is not busy, when a Crave is sold out. Now, granted, it's on Superbowl Sunday, but don't people eat cupcake at Superbowl parties?

The cupcake itself looks nice. Not messy nor does it look homemade, it's definitely professional looking cupcake. I tried to Chocolate Truffle, it's not really what it sounds like. It's more like a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing. I would say other than it looks good, the cupcake wasn't anything spectular. They certainly have the good location in their favor, but not sure if the owner's unfriendliness or the ordinary taste of the cupcakes makes the place stagnant, but I fear that when Crave Cupcakes move down the street in Spring would that put a small mom and pop shop like Celebrity out of business. We shall see.

Celebrity Cupcakes
2343 University Blvd. Ste B
Houston, TX 77005
713-667-CAKE (2253)