Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cafe Annie

1728 Post Oak Blvd

It's apropros that I review Cafe Annie on the same day the Houston Downtown Park Conservancy named the new eleven acre park, Discovery Park. The owners of Cafe Annie are the same folks chosen to build the cafe and restaurant in the new park.

For too long I've avoided trying this Houston institution. The thought of spending a lot of money for food made by the same people as Taco Milagro scared me--I really dislike the food at Taco Milagro because it's too bland. But I had to try this Zagat favorite before it goes under the bulldozer in the name of redevelopment (new shopping, dining, living complex coming soon).

Without a reservation, we snagged a table on the upper edge of the restaurant, looking down upon patrons dressed up in suits and ties. The space is nice. It exudes fine dining without being pretentious.

We ordered the corn soup and mango and jicama salad. The roasted corn soup with crabmeat and smoked chiles ($12) tasted awesome. Sweet corn kernels drowned in a lightly-sweet corn soup. Finely balanced without tampering from too much salt or any other distracting flavor. The salad went too far down the simplicity scale. It tasted exactly liked it looked--chopped ingredients in a bowl.

For my main course, I ordered what the waiter told me was one of the most popular dishes, the red fish on shrimp tamale all decked out on a banana leaf ($25). The red fish was very good. But it wasn't very exciting--the pipian rojo flavors didn't add much. The shrimp tamale was delicate and tasty: so delicate, I had a hard time remembering it was a tamale and not a souffle. Quite tasty.

For dessert we tried the chocolate cobbler ($12). Essentially it's a light brownie at its base, a middle cake-like tier and topped with the traditional cobbler crunchy topping. It wasn't a cobbler except in the texture department. I really enjoyed it. Rekha, on the other hand, thought the ice cream, not the cobbler, was the bomb.

Overall, I'm ambivalent. We spent $125 including tip (no alcohol). Was the meal good? Yes. Was it $125 good? I'm not sure. I think I'd rather spend an extra $75 at Noe's or spend the same amount at Da Marco's.


anonymouseater said...

I agree. In its day, Cafe Annie had the best game and Southwestern-influenced food in Houston, and one of the City's best chefs. They also had the city's best wine list, and best wine guy. He went on to possibly the best wine gig in America -- sommolier at the French Laundry in Napa.

Now the menu changes are infrequent and true innovations are few. The wine list is a shadow of its former self. It is still elegant and quite good, but not the innovator it was 15 - 20 years ago. Unfortunately, you tried it much too late.

November 03, 2006

Huan said...

I haven't tried Tony's yet either. Is it past its prime?

November 23, 2006


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