Monday, May 26, 2008

Feast Again

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.

Herb Salad

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.

Artichoke

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.

Chocolate Cake

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.

6 comments:

Misha said...

More photos from Feast:

http://tinyurl.com/59qe2w

Are you going to the Feast tasting the Chowhound peoples are putting together next Sunday?

anonymouseater said...

I tried to go, but the rsvp list is closed. Too sad.

At least I can look forward to your photos.

Andy said...

My wife and I went to Feast on the strength of your first review when we were passing through Houston in April. We had a wonderful time - the pork, pigeon and prune terrine was terrific, I loved the pork cheeks, and my wife inhaled her lamb shank like a trencherman.

We're moving to Houston in August and hope to return to Feast many times in the future. The stuffed squid sounds delicious!

tram said...

they have a $22 three-course lunch offering now too. lunch is served until 3 so it's a great way to start a weekend early!

neverfull said...

anonymouseater, the rsvp list will always be open for you. bring your camera. see you on sunday! you too misha.

anonymouseater said...

Thanks neverfull. I'm looking forward to it.

The folks at Feast are going to have a hard time ignoring a large table of food geeks, all taking photos of food and drooling.