Monday, August 04, 2008

if I was going to be in town for Houston Restaurant Week

Houston Restaurant week is August 11 - 17. A lot of restaurants -- mostly good ones -- are serving 3-course meals for $35, and donating $5 to charity. Details are here. More importantly, menu choices are here.

Sadly, I will be in New York City. But if I were in town, this is where I might go, and what I might order off the special HRW menus:

Americas - Woodlands. I mostly want to visit this restaurant to see the interior design and taste more of Plinio Salndalo's desserts. Course 1 choices are very dull -- surely these guys can do better than the tired mixed greens salad with cilantro dressing. Course 2 - Carnitas sous-vide looks interesting. Course 3 - No question; skip the Tres Leches and order Raspados (piahaya, banana, chocolate soy, lucuma, coconut) -- surely a Plinio creation.

Arcodoro. Arcodoro's food is sometimes hit-or-miss and always pricey. But the HRW menu looks like a really good deal. Course 1 -- Fregula Belvedere (Sardinian couscous with rock shrimp and shitake mushrooms in a saffron basil broth). Course 2 -- Ravioli al Granchio e Crema di Bottarga (pasta stuffed with crab and topped with a bottarga cream sauce). 3 - the desserts are a tossup.

Caffe Annie. 1 - Butter lettuce with Chorizo and Chopped Egg - I am a sucker for chorizo; 2 - Grilled Gulf Shrimp with Grilled Watermelon Salad and Garlic Butter - grilled watermelon sounds interesting. 3 - the choices sound dull, but I might opt for the Brownie with Rocky Road Sauce.

Gigi's Asian Bistro - Another hit-or-miss restaurant, but this menu looks so good, with some of Gigi's best dishes. 1 - Shu Mai; 2 - Wok Panang Beef; 3 - Molten Chocolate Cake.

Gravitas - Possibly my favorite HRW menu. It looks like the kitchen took the opportunity to really try and be creative: 1 - Shaved calamari and cucumber salad - how in the heck does one "shave" a calamari?; 2 - Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Asian (?) and watercress salad -- I dig Gravitas' slow roasted meats, and I dig watercress, so this is a no-brainer; 3 - marshmallow and chocolate tart.

Le Mistral - 1 - Mushroom Soup - I have had this many times and love it; 2 - Double pork chop confit served with apricot chutney, mustard sauce, zucchini beignet; 3 - Chocolate fondant with Marie Brizard Cafe-infused vanila shake - one of my favorite desserts in town.

Pesce - The prices are usually so expensive, that the HRW menu is a steal. 1 - Seafood Martini - a classic; 2 - Potato Crusted Red Fish with a jicama, cilantro, micro green salad and Jack Daniels sweet corn salsa - the sides sound interesting; 3 - creme brulee.

Voice - My other vote for best-sounding menu. 1 - Mushroom Soup Cappuccino - Chef Kramer's signature, and possibly the best soup in town; 2 - Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs with Yukon potato puree, and celery-apple salad - short ribs in August? why not?; 3 - Chocolate Cream Pie, 5-Spice Ice Cream, Orange Tuile.

Go out. Enjoy yourselves. Have a chocoalte fondant for me.

And if you have some suggestions on where I should go in NYC (I already have reservations at WD-50), please let me know.


Anonymous said...

eleven madison park.

notice the period.

Anonymous said...

Perilla in Greenwich Village is awesome (9 Jones St). It's top chef Harold's restaurant, and I just went last week with a dinner party. I got the duck meatballs, red snapper special, and doughnuts for dessert. I wouldn't change a thing and would go back in a heartbeat. Have fun!

plinio said...


wd50s awesome!

you're not missing out much on restaurant week ... unless you want to get inundated with chocolate desserts. funny, everyone is doing chocolate.

i wanted to do something different, something off menu, something special ...

Anonymous said...

Looks like i might be in Houston that monday night for a quick business trip to NASA, might have to check one of these places out. I think Gravitas might be the winner. Although America's doing sous-vide carnitas sounds interesting. I'm not sure though, i like just a touch of crispy char on my carnitas, gives them a nice texture as long as it isn't overdone. Still, a neat concept. I've heard they've really outdone themselves with the interior of that place too.

Have fun at WD-50, its pretty high on my list of places to check out.

Unknown said...

lifeinsiliconvalley - if you're going to be at Nasa you might want to check out Cullen's which is down that way. Caveat - I've never been. Apparently it's a recent restaurant? But the menu on the webiste actually looks intriguing.

Anonymous said...

I am with Justin. Go to Eleven Madison Park and report back. San Francisco is still in the state of shock that Daniel Humm left.

I was also going to check out 15 East next time I am in town. Sounds like a good place to eat fish.

I have heard good things about Joe's Shanghai and Grand Sichuan.

Aquavit may be worth a visit, but if you really want to have fun go to Momofuku Ko and pull out a camera. I want to know what happens next.

anonymouseater said...

Ok. Now I've reserved at WD-50 and eleven madison park.

I thought about Perilla and Aquavit (I'm stumbling over the fact that Aquavit's most special dish seems to be Swedish meatballs and they have a lot of pickled herring-type items). 15 East looks right up my alley.

Grand Sichuan sounds outstanding, as does Joe's Shanghai. Perhaps good lunch choices.

Of course, I'll be going to a lot of falafel trucks too.

Anonymous said...

if you were interested in Eleven Madison Park, skip it and go to Grammercy Tavern - same owner, but better menu.
Quality Meats is excellent for lunch.
Park avenue Summer is always an interesting choice - the entire restaurant (decor and menu) changes four times a year. desserts are always very creative.

Anonymous said...

I made reservations at Cafe Annie and then noticed everything they are offering for HRW comes straight off their lunch menu. It is barely a bargain. LAME.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with anonymous, dont skip eleven madison park, however do go to gramercy tavern, when i worked at blue hill michael anthony was the chef now he has taken over at gramercy tavern and his food is delicious, just dont pass up humm's food either. If your looking for wd 50 style go to tailor, public, maze at the london, perry street, p*ong. But in my opinion not to be missed is taking the metro north up to tarrytown and going to the stone barns center, its about a 30 -40 minute ride. Touring the farm and greenhouse and then eating dinner at Blue HIll. Check it out at

Anonymous said...

All I'm gonna add to this is that you'd better get a hot dog or a falafel from a street vendor while you're there, too, or I'll be massively disappointed. ;)

Have a fun trip!

Anonymous said...

balthazar in nyc for oysters and steak frites

Anonymous said...

WD-50 is amazing. Definately do the tasting menu. I have heard some pretty disappointing reviews of Perilla. My spot to try in NY the next time I am there is Prune. Gabrielle Hamilton's spot has become the new Blue Ribbon. A number of chefs frequent her restaurant. I have heard that she serves the best bone marrow in the city.

Anonymous said...

I can highyl recommend Daniel while in NYC. I had one of my top 3 dining experiences there recently (and one of my other top 3 is the French Laundry). Another very cool thing .... I actually got to meet Daniel Boulud as he was walking around talking to customers in the dining room....very cool!!

Anonymous said...

For benchmark soup dumplings, you have to try Joe's Shanghai Noodles in Chinatown. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

If you're a dessert (chocolate) person you have to go to Max Brenner's in NYC. In one word... amazing. It's like Willie Wonka for grown-ups. Have a great time in my favorite city! Also, you can't go wrong with any of the BLT restaurants.

Anonymous said...

I went to America's in The Woodlands and decided not to eat off the Restaurant Week menu. The food was incredible and it is beautiful. I think our waitress was on her first night there; I expected impeccable service, which I did not get. :( ~Sharon

Lauren said...

Le Mistral was delicious! However, we had to ask about the Restaurant Week menu...I was surprised that it wasn't publicized to the diners.

Anonymous said...

Le Mistral ran out of the porkchop. Very disappointing. :(

But the good news is that HRW has been extended until August 24th, so now you don't have NYC as an excuse! ;)

Hope you had a fun time!

neverfull said...

i know you're back. when do we get the food in NY report?