Since there doesn't seem to be a consolidated Where to Dine Now in Houston thread like there is for other cities, I thought I'd start one so it would be easier to see what's new (or established and still worth a visit) in one place.
I spent a week in Houston for the Shell Open and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Meetings and Final Four which conveniently occurred the same week. There were a number of places I wanted to try. But between my schedule, the location of our hotel (near the golf course-at best about a 25 minute drive to downtown) and the large volume of ‘visitors’ my options were somewhat limited. Overall I still ate quite well. I won’t bother with the ‘grab a bite anywhere to avoid starvation’ meals,
The Pass & Provisions-I dined in the Provisions (more casual) portion of the restaurant. Started with an excellent cocktail. The Jean Lafite- aged rum/ PX sherry/allspice dram/lime. Followed with 6 raw Beausoliel oysters (excellent). An oven roasted octopus salad, which was gorgeously plated. But unfortunately the octopus had been overcooked to the point of being dry and tough. Followed by an excellent pasta dish-Cresta de Gallo, Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Roasted Yeast and Parmesan. A very large portion of perfectly cooked pasta, lots of mushrooms and a load of umami.
State of Grace-Another good cocktail to start. The La Parilla- reposado tequila/blistered serrano infusion/triple sec/grilled lime/smoked salt, mescal float on the rocks. The restaurant has an oyster bar with a large selection of oysters and seafood in addition to the main dining area. I would have loved to give their oyster happy hour a go. I settled for 6 excellent Southern Pearl oysters (Bayou La Batre, AL) served with fresh grated horseradish. Followed by an order of light and fluffy Crawfish Hushpuppies sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with cane syrup butter. I wish I could’ve finished them all. But I succumbed to the siren call of the crawfish tail and spring pea risotto. An excellent rendition.
Caracol-Best Mexican food I’ve had in ages. They specialize in Mexican Coastal cuisine. Two meals here because it was convenient to the NCAA meetings. One brunch and one dinner. Excellent cocktails. An Ocean Between rye/reposado mescal/XTA anise liqueur/bitters/grapefruit peel. Past the Heather tequila anejo/Balcones rumble/Drambuie/orange bitters/preserved fig. This one was a tad sweet for me. But still a good cocktail. Dinner-Started with wood roasted Gulf oysters with chipotle butter and bread crumbs. They arrived in atop rock salt in a gorgeous pewter dish. We were warned the dish was VERY hot. It was. I hit a knuckle on it and was rewarded with a nice blister. The oysters were plump, perfectly cooked and very tasty. I could’ve eaten a dozen all by myself. But there were plenty of other items on the menu that tempted me. Next up Pulpo Almendrado Spanish octopus, almonds, purslane-herb salad, heart of palm, tomatoes, fish cracklings. Stellar presentation. Perfectly cooked octopus nestled in the lightly dressed salad. Next, Ceviche Caracol-conch, pineapple, ginger, jalapeno. Another gorgeous plated presentation. The ceviche perfectly balanced and tender. Excellent. And for dessert-Plantanitos Flameados- rum flambéed Dominican baby bananas, crème fraiche, rompope, Mexican vanilla ice cream. Outstanding. I finished the whole thing. Something I very rarely do when it comes to desserts. On to brunch. Another order of oysters. Excellent again. Campechana Estilo DF- shrimp, crab, octopus, tomato, serrano chile, cilantro, Mexico City style. Excellent seafood “cocktail”. Ensalada de Pulpo- Spanish octopus salad, roasted potato, carrot, celery leaves, pumpkin seed dressing. Again, perfectly cooked octopus. Beautiful greens and vegetables with a well-balanced, flavorful dressing lightly applied. They brought us an alcohol coffee drink for ‘dessert’ which was outstanding. Unfortunately, I didn’t get all the details as I had to step away from the table to answer a call as the drinks were delivered. I do know it was espresso based with condensed milk and a Mexican liqueur. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the service was outstanding even though the restaurant was packed during both visits.
One more to come....