HOton’s Restaurant Weeks are underway and diners have been busy studying the menus and planning their reservations for the five week event. I’ve written about a few restaurants that are involved in the charity already – Ginger & Fork, Amalfi Ristorante Italiano & Bar, and Sud Italia – and I’m working on several more, so stay tuned. The action ends on September 4th, giving you plenty of time to choose your tables.
The Houston Food Bank is doing a great job of feeding the hungry throughout the event, and your sponsorship is helping, so keep eating.
In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with ordering from non-Houston Restaurant Weeks menus, and I want to share a few dishes that should be on your radar screen by now. Some of these are new (one was put on the menu a few days ago) and others are delicious dishes that will hopefully never be put together. I’ll call them my Dream Team.
Note: Some of these are specials and not available every day, so call ahead to avoid disappointment.
The first one standing, Himalayan Restaurantchest sliders. Yes, it’s one of those “specials”, and it’s not always on Kaiser Lashkari’s menu. It presents these wonderfully chewy buns filled with slightly spicy brisket for lunch – Himalayas is BYOB, so plan ahead and eat three sliders and a few Palak Paneer and live well.
Carpaccio di Pomodoro is next on the list. This jewel of a plate has been added to the menu at Tony’s days ago, and the bold and graceful complexity of flavors and textures here is exceptional. The first bite delivers the tomato in a grand way – understated acidity, slices so thin they seem to melt on the tongue. There’s tomato jelly in the mix, which provides a silky, sultry mouth feel, and chopped, fresh, rich and supple Wagyu.
River Oaks District
Accompany this dish with a glass of Cos “Rami” and your time will be well spent.
I’m going to pasta now, a Sardinian dish that’s on the menu like Tonno and Bottarga. You will find this deceptively simple article on Arcodoro Ristorante Italiano, and if you’re looking for flavor, the proper use of ingredients, and something that demonstrates excellent cooking technique, this is the place for you.
The ahi tuna is seared to perfection and plated with red onions, arugula, celery, cannellini beans and, the final touch, bottarga, these brackish eggs and filled with umami of, on this dish, the mullet Grey. Olive oil and salt complete the mixture. (Note: this item is on Arcodoro’s Restaurant Weeks menu.)
WWhile in Arcodoro, ask for the owner, Efisio Farris (he and his wife – and restaurant co-owner – Lori, are accommodating and gracious hosts). Order a glass of the Efix, a Prosecco he produces, and let it give you a taste of Sardinian cuisine (s). You will be fascinated.
What about tacos now? Chorizo and sweetbread tacos, to be exact. My place is Gerardo’s, a family run establishment on Patton Street that has been in existence for 40 years. Get there early, line up at the counter and see what’s on offer. The corn tortillas are exemplary, the barbacoa some of the best I’ve had, and the hospitality is as good as you will find. (Click here for an article I wrote on Gerardo last year.)
Finally – and there’s a lot more great food out there, but space and time intrude – go to Riel and ask for the corn gnocchi. The hot and rich Cotija fondue and the corn gnocchi crispy on the outside and luxuriously warm and chewy on the inside. There is lime and espelette, and some micro greens.
The first “full” spoonful of this dish, the one containing the cheese fondue and the corn and the gnocchi and the espelette, will be, I predict, one of the best things you have had in quite a while. The flavors mingle, deepen, burst, linger. The micro greens add a singing luminosity, the corn a hearty depth. Aesthetically, it is a beautiful dish, and your palate will smell it in many ways.