Restaurant dishes

Best Houston restaurant food we ate in October: Ravioli, wagyu

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Every month, the Houston Chronicle catering team dines at the restaurant…well, we won’t put a number on it, just say we do a lot of restaurant visits. Here are some of the best dishes we ate in October; we think they are all worth seeking out.

Madai tostada with uni, sansho and kinome at Neo

Tostada de kanpachi with uni and sansho at Neo’s pop-up collab dinner with Alex Bremont from Mexico CityAlison Cook/Staff

So many dishes stood out on the pop-up tasting menu the Neo sushi chefs staged with Mexico City chef Alex Bremont that it seems absurd to name just one. Seriously, dinner was so good – such a memorable extinguished meal I’ve had in years. Still, I find myself returning to my stored photos to ogle the glistening tostada kanpachi again and again. And I remember the crackle of fried-to-order masa disks against the fresh, sweet bite of dried raw sea bream; the subtle richness of the Maine sea urchin complicates matters; the invigorating, minty tinkle of the leaves of the Japanese prickly ash tree (kinome), which produces the numbing green sansho peppercorns that tinge the glossy base. It was a multi-faceted gem both in appearance and taste – and a tribute to how the skills of Luis Mercado and Paolo Justo merge with those of their friend Alex to produce an enthralling experience. Bremont, the former chef of Pujolvisits here often, so check Neo’s website to see what’s next on their omakase private dining program. It is worth the effort and the expense.

Alison Cook

Chicken Banana Blossom Salad at Com Ga Thuong Hai

Goi ga, a Vietnamese version of chicken salad, at Com Ga Thuong Hai

Goi ga, a Vietnamese version of chicken salad, at Com Ga Thuong Hai

Bao Ong

I often describe Com Ga Thuong Hai in Spring to friends as “Vietnamese Chicken Restaurant” because virtually every dish on the menu features chicken or duck. Rice plates, noodles and porridge are just a few options, but the best part is that you can also choose white or dark meat for most orders (I team up with dark meat every time) .

For the past two months, I’ve been browsing the restaurant menu and recently tried goi ga, a Vietnamese version of chicken salad. Similar to two previous visits, the poached chicken was tender and juicy. The curly banana flower strands may taste bitter, but here they were perfectly balanced with the herbs and a sweet fish sauce spiced up with ginger and chilies. It’s a cold salad that you can enjoy any time of the year, but there are too many other dishes to try on my next visit.

4010 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. W., Ste. 120

Bao Ong

Picadita to Puebla Mexican Food

Bean picadita, queso fresco and guajillo salsa at Puebla's Mexican Kitchen
Bean picadita, queso fresco and guajillo salsa at Puebla’s Mexican KitchenAlison Cook/Staff

Sometimes the simplest and cheapest dish on a menu can leave a lasting impression. Puebla Mexican Food, a welcoming breakfast and lunch spot on the Near Northside, serves up a three dollar picadita I can’t help but think of. The saucer-sized masa shell is slightly crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. It’s topped with refried beans and a choice of salsas – I love the dark red version of the guajillo pepper, but you can also choose tomatillo or a nice mole sauce. Plus, a snowstorm of queso fresco crumbles and crispy chopped onion for a little extra texture. Basic and utterly satisfying, especially with a cup of Puebla cinnamon flavored cafe de olla.

6320 N. Main

Alison Cook

Pumpkin ravioli with Coltivare (picture above)

Beyond pumpkin spice: pumpkin-stuffed ravioli now on the menu at coltivare bring a whole new shine to this fall classic. Chef Ryan Pera lightens the pumpkin filling with a bit of butternut squash, then adds tangy pomegranate seeds and chopped walnuts for vibrant flavors and textures. (The usual Texas game is to use pecans in this context, but the more tannic nuts add zest and hold up better to the brittle, pungent, fried sage leaves scattered across the plate.) -the bran butter sauce interesting perk, and it turned out to be angostura bitters – a bright little salty twist on a dish that often lands too sweet.

3320 White Oak

Alison Cook

Crab roll at Golfstrommen

Crab roll with smoked mayonnaise and homemade potato chips at Golfstrommen
Crab roll with smoked mayonnaise and homemade potato chips at GolfstrommenAlison Cook/Staff

The lobster rolls seem a bit overdone and obvious compared to the new crab roll at Golfstrommenthe Hybrid of Nordic and Texan seafood at the downtown Post Market food hall. It’s a marvel, from the soft elasticity of its pink crab mesh, all delicate brackish sweetness, to the subtle regional note of its smoked butter. (They used cold water Jonas crab from Maine the day I tried it, and they substituted Gulf blue crab depending on supply.) Fresh dill and red onion fronds marinated add a lively Norwegian note, thanks to the influence of chef-partner Christian Haatuft. And wow, this fluffy bun baked by pastry chef Alyssa Dole, from the next LuLoo’s day and night. It is a marvel of inner softness held in a harness by a stretched and vaporous split leather sheath.

401 Franklin Street

Alison Cook

Raclette at Montrose Cheese & Wine

Raclette plate with roasted potatoes and pickles at Montrose Cheese & Wine
Raclette plate with roasted potatoes and pickles at Montrose Cheese & WineAlison Cook/Staff

Ah, the cool season, when thoughts turn to big wheels of funky alpine cheese ritually melted and scraped over a mess of baby roast potatoes and pickles. Thanks to Montrose cheese and wineAt the monthly Saturday raclette festivals, this optimal plate of food can be enjoyed with minimum fuss and maximum enjoyment, as long as you arrive early enough – because when the huge wheels of cheese are gone, that’s it. what she wrote. It’s first come, first served. Purchase your ticket inside the cheese and wine shop, then queue to pass through the melting and scratching line set up on the charming narrow side terrace. Add big jeroboams of suitable white wines (October featured a particularly crisp and delicious Lugana) and you have a party. The raclette plate is $20 per person and there is a double cheese option. You will.

1618 Westheimer

Alison Cook

Seafood platter at Segari’s Restaurant and Bar

Seafood platter at Segari's restaurant

Seafood platter at Segari’s restaurant

Greg Morago

When a Houston native recently invited me to Segari’s, Shepherd’s old-school seafood restaurant, I jumped at the chance. It’s been 12 years since I last dined in this dark and quirky little lair where traditions reign and where the customers all seem to know each other.

I started with an expertly prepared martini and a cup of the house’s excellent seafood and sausage gumbo. Segari’s tries with grilled meat entrees, but it’s the kitchen’s seafood dishes that are the stars. We did as the regulars did and shared the seafood platter, loaded with prawn cocktail, crab cocktail, fried oysters, fried prawns and what must be the best onion rings in town. A vibrant crispy crust hugging the sweet, firm goodness of onion. I would return in a jiffy just for those glorious onion wheels.

1503 Shepherd

Greg Morago

Wagyu Meatballs in Roma

Texas wagyu meatballs in marinara at Roma

Texas wagyu meatballs in marinara at Roma

Greg Morago

Charming Roma has undergone several chef and menu changes since opening in 2015 in Rice Village. Earlier this year, a significant change took place when owner Shanon Scott hired Kevin Bryant as executive chef. The results brought a new level of finesse to the Italian restaurant, where I recently had the pleasure of indulging in Bryant’s Texas Wagyu Meatballs. Bathed in a succulent marinara, the soft meatballs are served in a cast iron skillet, sprinkled with ricotta cheese and drizzled with basil pesto from the garden of Roma. Some Houstonians will remember when Houston had its own annual meatball festival. If this contest was still around, these beauties would be the winners.

2347 University

Greg Morago

Kottu roti at LankaMex

Beef Kottu at LankaMex

Beef Kottu at LankaMex

Bao Ong/Houston Chronicle

Unlike a lot of Sri Lankans, I’m not the biggest fan of kottu.

Maybe I didn’t get a good kottu roti? The popular late-night street food is a hodgepodge of ingredients – protein, vegetables and, of course, chopped godhamba roti. Last time I had it was a fatty mess with a note of carbs and ground beef.

So I was surprised that when I ordered beef kottu from LankaMex, I found something less fatty and more flavor bomb.

Westheimer and South Gessner’s tiny Sri Lankan grocer looks like a convenience store without a gas pump. Inside, it’s full of culinary nostalgia: bottles of kithul (palm syrup) line one of the shelves, and idiyappam (string hoppers) and cutlets are arranged with other foods under a lamp hot in the back.

Each bite of kottu was a small symphony of flavors, from spicy beef to chopped and diced peppers and onions. A small cup of curry accompanied the dish.

9531 Westheim

John-Henry Sumal Perera


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