Thursday, August 29, 2013


At first I thought Etoile had a HRW lunch menu, turned out they only had brunch, not lunch.
Oh well, been meaning to go there and give it a try anyway, so no biggie for trying lunch.
I've been on this Arnold Palmer kick, so had to order one... not sweet enough though
For starter, I had the lobster bisque.  I can definitely tell there's liquor in it, but can barely taste the lobster.  I also much like lobster bisque that has some meat to it.  I got spoiled by Pappadeaux.
I got the Prosciutto Sandwich, it comes with a cute little bowl of fries...
Cross section of the sandwich, it has mozzarella, dried tomato, prosciutto, basil and arugula.  Very tasty!
For dessert, I got the apple tart.  It's so beautifully made.  It's gorgeous.  Also tastes good, but just pretty to look at.

This space used to be a smaller scale cafe, so it's not exactly big, so you definitely should make a reservation.  Everything is high class to a T, so I would advise dressing up a bit.

1011-11 Uptown Park
Houston, TX 77056

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

HRW: Eleven XI

This is one of those 'much anticipated' places I wanted to try.  Eleven on West Gray, located at formerly Bibas One A Meal's house... they definitely re-did everything to up-scale the place.
For my first course, I chose the Grilled Oyster, which is really liked the Baked Mussels you get at sushi restaurant, except the fillings were bacon and cheddar filling.  The piece of oyster was tiny... 
For second course, I had the Ceasar Salad, which has parmesan cheese and prosciutto crisp, which is much like slices of nicely crisped bacons... but I'm sure it cost more.
For intermezzo, I had the cucumber water, which has salted rimmed but the taste is more sour than refreshing as I had thought it might be.
For the entree, I had the seared scallop risotto.  I loved the scallop, the risotto has this cream sauce on it.  But I think I'd like the risotto to be more flavorful to my taste.
Since the HRW menu doesn't come with any dessert, which I'd much rather forgo the intermezzo than skip dessert.  But I got one anyhow.  This is White Chocolate Macadamian nut bread pudding with ice cream and caramel sauce.  It is actually very delicious and not overwhelming.  The bread pudding with the ice cream together was a perfect match.  Highly recommend it.

The place is nice, they have some tables that are a bit tight, so when you make a reservations make sure you specify your preference.  It was weird for HRW restaurant not to have dessert, but I'm glad I got the 'off the menu' dessert.  Also, they have shoe string fries, which was very delicious, great for happy hour.  Apparently their mussels and fries is their signature dish, so give that a try.

607 West Grey
Houston, TX 77019

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

PF Chang's

We needed a quick bite, so I got the Singapore Street Noodle, gluten free style.  It tasted pretty good, but it's definitely nowhere close to the real deal.  You get less 'wet' with the original and more meat.  PF's gives you more veggies which I guess we all need it some times.  Again, how you can tell it's gluten free is that they use different plates than normal dishes.  So, if you get an all white plate, that's for the normal dishes.  The plate with their logo, means it's gluten free.  

Also, don't be shy to ask for gluten free fortune cookie on your way out, sometimes the servers are so used to grabbing normal fortune cookies that they don't pay attention.  They kept the GF fortune cookies in the manager's office.  Shhh... you didn't hear it from me. LOL

P.F. Chang's
Highland Village
4094 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77027

Monday, August 26, 2013

HRW: L'Olivier

One of the HRW I was looking forward to was L'Olivier.  
I've never been to that space before, but it is intimate and cool.  It has a hidden private room, you just have to inquire about it. 
There's a mini wine room that separate the dining area and the bar.  Their bar, by the way, reminds me alot of the now defunct,  Roots' old bar.  
Got an Arnold Palmer to start.
For our first course, we had the House Smoked Salmon, not only that's the most appealing out of the choices.  It is one of their more known dishes.  They are one of their most popular.
For entree, I got the pork medallion which has slices of granny smith apple, on top of the pork.  Mashed potato and green beans were good.  The pork was nice and juicy.  My friend got the beef bourguignon, and it was much drier than we thought, it's weird because it should be moist, but theirs was dry, dry, dry. 
For dessert, I couldn't resist their profiteroles.  You don't see alot offer profiteroles and if they do, you question their quality, so out of curiosity, I tried it.   Instead of the cream, they put ice cream.  The chocolate sauce was ok, the best is still when Jeannine's was around.  Their chocolate sauce came from Belgium chocolate, best profiteroles ever.  I have yet to taste any that matches their quality.

Our server was great, he's attentive and paid attention.  Offered to split checks without us asking.  He was super polite, and always made sure we have enough to drink or eat.  The space is echoy, so it might be noisy if your neighbor is a tad louder than you.  I do recommend you to make reservations because the space is limited.

240 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77006

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Granduca Afternoon Tea

So I've heard about the Tea at Granduca and have been meaning to try, and now finally got a chance.
 We got the Traditional Tea Set, which comes with finger sandwiches.  You have an open faced salmon, open faced cucumber watercress.  At the bottom layer, you have chicken curry, egg salad, and ham and mustard.  The chicken curry is not common, but not bad.  What was bad was the bread they used, which was a bit stale and hard.  It's pretty hard to do for sandwich bread, and these are supposed to be made to order...
 Assorted dessert, you have an apple cake, chocolate dipped chocolate cake, cream tart, macarons, and a nut chocolate combo treat.  And as much as a sweet person, I actually found non of them too impressive.
 And no tea is complete without scones... As my friend pointed out, the texture is more like a biscuit than a scone, and it's true, there's more layers like the golden biscuits.  I can taste more butter than normal, I know there's cranberries but can't really taste it.  They also have a plain version as well.
 For your scones, they have clodded cream, which you can tell it's made in house.  There's blackberry jam and raspberry jam.  Not bad.
For macaron, it is the one-inch size.  The shell is nice and soft, you can tell it was frozen, but managed to be soft in the shell, but I cannot tell what's in the inside... it was still chilled.

Of course, for tea, it's best to make a reservation ahead of time.  They do ask you for your credit card to save the reservation.  And when you do, they will ask you which tea set you want, because they are different food than the traditional set.  Also, they will ask you to confirm the number in your party.  They specify that if you have less people than what your reservation is for, they will charge $30 for the no-shows.  So make sure you confirm.

When I arrived, it wasn't clear where the tea seating was going to be.  The hostess was nowhere to be found, and when you ask the hotel staff they were confused too.  That was kinda awkward.  The seating area is very beautiful and nice, definitely transform you to a different setting.  Our server was very attentive, but the kitchen was behind.  Which was to our surprise because if we have the reservations ahead of time, they should be ready with the food.  Very strange...

Granduca Tea
1080 Uptown Park Blvd.
Houston, TX 77056

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

HRW: Brooklyn Athletic Club

One of the places on HRW that I've been looking forward to was The Brooklyn Athletic Club.
I've read a few write ups about it, and was very curious...
First course, we had their Mac & Cheese.  It has rib roast inside, with a hit of jalapeno pepper in the taste.  I must say, for jalapeno mac & cheese, Glass Wall has it best.  While this is not bad at BAC, it's nothing to write home about.
I ordered an Arnold Palmer, which seemingly simple, you do need to pay attention that they are pushing the hard version more than the virgin version.  So, make sure you look at their cocktail list so you don't end up with something you didn't expect.
For the main course, I had the sirloin, which was dry, and you can see it as soon as the plate was presented to you.  Though I had asked for medium, it was cooked to almost well.  What's the in between for medium well and well?  That's where mine was.  The fries was pretty good though.

My friend ordered the Porkobusso, it does fall off the bone; however, it doesn't have enough seasoning.  The side of brussels sprout/mushroom/bacon combo is pretty good.  But too bad, the seasoning didn't translate to the meat.
For dessert, I got the chocolate ganache cake, it has raspberry puree' that goes with it.  Very delectable.  My friend ordered the S'more Bread Pudding, I would actually rather that more though.

Overall, this is really a hipster's bar.  Nowhere on the HRW or their site state to make a reservation for dinner.  And they were pretty much stickler to their rule, where if you don't have a reservation you cannot sit inside even though they have all the open tables as far as eye can see.  Even when my friend ordered a drink at the bar, they didn't even offer for her to sit at the bar.  That's a tad snotty, if you ask me.  

So, we sat outside, fine, it is only next to Richmond, where you have a ton of traffic coming thru along with your meal.  But we were lucky ones, since most other patrons they put out at the open under the sun as opposed to under the cover with a fan.  Much like the sitting inside situation, they were very skimpy about offering that to others.  I mean, unless you really want to be close to the croquet set, but hey, that's up to you.

Our server was snooty to say the least.  Definitely not friendly... not sure if it's because we're doing HRW or what, but definitely not the friendliest on the block.  For instance, my friend's first course did not come with a spoon but mine did, she noticed it but chose not to do anything.... hmm.  That said, our table drank enough and tip enough, just didn't think we'd be worth while like other hipster that frequents there.

Brooklyn Athletic Club
601 Richmond
Houston, TX 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

HRW: Max's Wine Dive

After some digging, I realized that Max's Wine Dive's  HRW menu is gluten free friendly, so we decided to give that a shot.
 This is their Watermelon Crouton salad, it has arugula, onion, feta cheese, and cubed watermelon with vinaigrette, a very seasonal salad.  I can do without the peanut type thing sprinkled on top though.
 This is their Pulled Pork Stuffed Pepper.  I does have a little kick to it, but it is pretty good.  I wouldn't mind just eating more of it.
 Here's the reason for going: their gluten free Fried Chicken.  While the server didn't know what the batter was, we were assured that it is gluten free because the owner is sensitive and that was the drive behind having more dishes gluten free.  Urm... ok.  It is very hard to convince people with gluten allergy that you don't know but you are pretty sure, as more and more people gets pretty severe reaction with allergies these days.
Since none of their dessert options were gluten free, we just opted for ice cream, which came with every one of their dessert options.  Figured that can't hurt right?!  It turned out to be pretty decent.  The ice cream featured here is from Cloud 10, which was slated to open during summer time in the Village, but as yet, it is still being worked on.  If you like more of Cloud 10, you can also have their dessert at Kata Robata.

For HRW and Sundays, you really need to make a reservations for dinner.  We went and they were not able to accommodate, so we sat at the 'patio'.  Which means, you're sitting in front of the store front, where cars are being valet or smokers hang outs.  

We also felt that just because we sat outside, not only do we have to tolerate the horrible music selection that no one inside can hear, but we can hear it blasting; we also felt like the server tend to neglect us because we're the only table outside, while most of his tables are inside.  On couple occasions we ended up going in ourselves to tell the server to get us our check and start the next course, while the bust boys/runners come out and check on us more than the server did.  That was just odd.  Another reason sitting outside doesn't pay, not to mention the carbon dioxide we inhale being in front of the valet.  

Lastly, if you bother to be gluten friendly on the HRW menu, they need to pay attention to have a GF option in every course.  Basically, they have an option in every course except dessert.  So you felt like you're going with the prix fixe and paying the full price but not being able to take advantage of all the courses.  In that case, ordering off the menu is easier.

Max's Wine Dive
4720 Washington Ave
at Shepherd
Houston, TX 77007

Monday, August 19, 2013

HRW: Kata Robata

So very thrilled that Kata Robata is participating in Houston Restaurant Week.  
 Everything on the menu looked delicious.  Too bad we had to pick.
 Unlike the other places, this meal cost $45, not including drinks.
 For amuse bouche, we got the edamame hummus with the lotus and diacon chips with chili oil.  The taste combine together is actually very complimentary.
 For my 1st course, I got the Amberjack sashimi and Fois Gras.  I got it mostly because I'm a fan of fois gras and you don't get that very often.  The dish has olive oil and lime juice with the Amberjack and hazelnut with the fois gras.  What I was doing was that I put a small piece of fois gras in the middle of the sashimi and wrap it all into a mini bite, very nice.
 For the main course, I had the scallops, it came with peach slices and arugula.  The side was their famous lobster mac and cheese.  I definitely appreciate the lobster, but the mac and cheese isn't as big of a deal as people made it. 
For dessert, I got the pear cake.  It came with a scoop of white bean sorbet, the bottom is layed down with soba powder, which yes, as you guessed it, as in soba noodle grounded into powder.  It mixed together nicely, is the powder needed?  Hmm, probably not, but it is fancier.

We always have an excellent experience at Kata.  Highly recommend you make a reservation.  It doesn't matter if it is HRW or not, it is best to do that just to save a spot.  By the way, did you know that you can reserve the sushi bar too.  Of course, great service from their server, highly recommend you go on a week night to avoid the main crowd.

Kata Robata
3600 Kirby Rd
Houston, TX 77098

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bite Macarons

As a mac fan, I had heard about Bite Macarons from a friend of mine.  
The chef happens to be my friend's sister-in-law...
Rows and rows of macs... yum!
They are also openly advertise that they do specialty pieces, which alot of places can do, but that's not their main thing, and usually won't mention it.  But unlike the others, Bite does show their price for a novelty decorative pieces.
Classy sticker with a see thru package... yes I like to see my macs after I paid for them.  We got, Rose, Earl Grey, Jasmine, Pistachio and Coffee
Nice pied (aka feet), they fit the taste into the shell too.  The Earl Grey and Jasmine does taste like the tea they were named after, that takes skills and I can definitely appreciate that.
Nice and soft and the taste comes thru the shell as well as the filling. The buttercream is super fresh, and you can tell they did not cut corner.  Good job!  However, I was surprise that Pistachio's taste was a tad weak.   

My main thing is that the size they made them are about an inch.  For $2.25, one inch is a tad much.  Patisse is bigger for the similar price.  Not that size matters, I mean for crying out loud Central Market's flying saucer size was only $1.25, doesn't necessary mean it's good.  They were trying to partake the niche.  But to make it well and for the money's worth, might as well give the patrons a little more.

Bite Macarons
5172-B Buffalo Speedway
In the same shopping center as Kroger
Houston, TX 77005

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Queen Vic Pub

We actually went here right before we delivered our baby.  Nothing say I'm ready to deliver than going to lunch at a pub.  LOL.  Actually, towards the end of my pregnancy I was so huge that it doesn't matter where we go, I wasn't going to enjoy a meal comfortably with a big belly and a small bladder.  So, no need to judge about eating at a pub, I wasn't drinking anyway.
So, The Queen Vic was known for their beers and their burgers, but their English fair with an Indian twist is hard to ignore.  You probably get one of the better Indian food here.
For lunch, they accompany the entree with a salad.  All fresh ingredients, nicely cut veggies with a vinaigrette dressing.  Not too tangy, just right.
I got the Banger and Mash, very British of me.  They have a wild boar sausage with a bed of creamy mashed potato.  Now, here's what you have to note: the dinner version is gluten free but the lunch version is not.  The reason being it's different type of demi glaze that's poured on top of the dish.  So, if you want gluten free, don't forget to ask them to switch sauce.  Don't worry, not alot of people think of going to a pub for lunch, they have enough bandwidth to accommodate.  And it taste so good that you won't regret being a bit high maintenance.

The Queen Vic Pub
2712 Richmond @ Kirby
Houston, TX 77098

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ruggles Green

This was the 1st place we went out after the baby's arrival.  To take a baby with you, Ruggles Green is one of the friendlier places to go.  I will say, that might not be the case during their prime time for dinner or brunch on weekends.
We went to the Ham & Cheese Panini with gluten free buns.  It's not shaped like a panini per se, but you get the idea.  We paired it with sweet potato fries.
We also got the gluten free pepperoni pizza.  I always forget how greasy it can be from the pepperoni.  We were basically waiting to drip all the oil before eating it.  

It's a tried and true gluten free-friendly spot, so you know you'll be getting quality food with the respect to whatever food sensitivity you have.

Ruggles Green
2311 W. Alabama @ Kirby
Houston, TX 77098

Monday, August 12, 2013

HRW: Hugo's

As promised, we're back with Houston Restaurant Weeks reporting.  This round, we started with Hugo's.  Been meaning to go there for some time, but you know how it is, there's so many good choices around town, if you're not in the neighborhood, it takes some effort.  But I'm glad we went there.  They're one of the few restaurants that posted gluten free options on their HRW selections.  So naturally we have to give them a try.  (Note: not all selections from other restaurants aren't GF, just that they made an effort to separate the options, which is kinda nice.)
 This is Tacos Doratos de Papa, the shell is made out of potato, but we can taste some corn in there, and the fillings are cabbage, pickled onions, which paired up nicely with the green tomatillo sauce.
 This is their Costilla de Borrego, which is their lollipop lamb with mole sauce (to die for).  You see asparagus, it's on top of a banana leave wrapped corn mixed with beef, which is rested on top of a bed of mustard greens.  You have to try the corn mixed with beef.  The beef is stew styled, and the corn is like a little corn cake, which mixed with the mole sauce is the best thing ever, I wouldn't mind licking the plate. 
For dessert, we got the sorbet.  It has a lime sorbet mixed with a mamade sorbet, which is a tropical fruit that is a close cousin to papaya.  You have a little piece of candie in between, which is like a carmel slice, with a hint of burnt sugar taste. 

One thing you have to know is that at Hugo's HRW menu, is broken down by wine pairing.  So, what you see here is our mixing and matching, since we've requested all gluten free options, and none of their menu offer all courses to be gf.  That said, they added a $5 surcharge for us to mix and match the HRW menu, so instead of the advertised $35, it's really $40.  Where $5 went to Houston Food Bank, and $5 addition to the left over amount went to the restaurant.  That said, I will definitely go back, especially after seeing alot more gluten free options on their menu.  

Reservations for HRW is highly recommended!

1600 Westheimer @ Mandell
Houston, TX 77008