On my first visit to Feast, I was impressed with the butchery, exotic meat items, and the kitchen's sense of humor. On my second visit, I was impressed with the kitchen's ability to make unique, intellectually exciting food from ordinary, non-trendy ingredients.
It seems that fine restaurants showcase herbs less now than 15 - 20 years ago. Herbs should not be a staple that come into fashion periodically. They should be a fixture in the kitchen.
Rarely have I seen a salad that consists almost exclusively of herbs. Apart from a few small oranges and edible flowers, Feast's herb salad was made entirely of tiny leaves of parsley, mint, and taragon, barely, almost imperceptibly, dressed.
The salad was light and ethereal, but full of flavor -- a brilliant way to start a meal.
Snails on Toast
Escargot are a cliche - the sort of food that you only find in old-fashioned cafes that try to be French. Almost all of those cafes believe they must drown the little snails in pools of butter.
Feast disagrees. The snails were cooked with a generous quantity of garlic and placed without oil or butter on a piece of toast. After we ate the snails, we noticed that their flavor lingered on the toast. This preparation emphasized, rather than covered up, the earthy flavor of the snails.
The artichoke is the long-forgotten trend food of fine dining in the late 1970s. Almost no one cooks a whole artichoke these days -- except Feast. Again, the preparation was unusual. The giant choke was served with the heart pressed down so it would support a pool of vinaigrette (not butter as in the 1970s). The leaves had spread out into a wide flower. We dipped the leaves into the vinaigrette until we were left with the best part -- the heart topped with only a thin sheen of dressing.
The dish took a long time to eat because it was so much fun.
Juniper Braised Goat with Spaghetti Squash
This is a classic preparation of an under-appreciated meat. The goat was braised in red wine with carrots and mushrooms. It tasted like beef bourgogne. I have never seen that preparation for goat meat, but it makes so much sense. Goat is a very flavorful meat that benefits from a pairing with the strong flavors of the wine sauce.
The spaghetti squash was an interesting side, that I rarely see in American restaurants.
We ended with a molten chocolate cake served with ginger, pear ice cream. Although it was one of the best-executed chocolate cakes in town, the real surprise was the vibrant, balanced flavor of the ice ice cream.
It is a beautiful dish to look at, but much better to eat.
Feast is not a gimmick or just a place to eat strange meats. It has emerged straight from the womb as one of the best, most interesting restaurants in Houston.