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

Friday, April 28, 2006

Escalante's Mexican Grille

4053 Westheimer Road

Located in the Highland Village, this new outpost for this Houston favorite will undoubtedly congest this little area even more. Escalante is all sleek light tanned leather chairs, open windows and bright colors. While there, we discovered, to our horror, that all the patrons knew each other and that we were foreigners at a new inside the loop restaurant.

We ordered the fajitas for two at a very reasonable $22. The meat came moist, the onions slightly translucent and the sour cream and guacamole plentiful. Unfortunately the salsa has the imagination and flavor of ketchup. We had to get jalepenos to add at least a little heat to this bland concoction.

Do order the President margarita, a very smooth, very entertaining bit of alcoholic goodness. I had mine on the rocks with salt--it was so smooth the salt actually detracted from the taste.

Service was very urban. The outdoors felt great. The light made me happy and the alcohol made me goofy. Add the fact that Bob Allen was sitting in the booth across from us with a cute blonde, and I felt like a local celebrity in what is sure to become a Houston hotspot.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gravitas Restaurant!

807 Taft
Houston, Texas

I feel compelled to write a third review about this restaurant. I feel compelled because the food has gone from interesting but mediocre to good and interesting.

We arrived at the complimentary valet only to realize that I could have parked in the back and avoided tipping the valet guy at the end of the night. When we walked in we saw sexy patrons sipping on sophisticated drinks in their bar, Sidebar. We skipped the drinks and got a table in front of the open kitchen. Chef Gould was present and in charge.

We had an all appetizer meal:

Duck confit ravioli - Perfect. The duck confit came flavorful and stuffed in a large not-too-starchy ravioli dressed with a wonderful light sauce.

Beet Salad - Not enough beets, but nicely matched with a frise salad in a balsamic vinaigrette (at least I think it was balsamic vinaigrette). When we told the waitress we were sharing, they even split the plate!

Yellow Tuna Carpacio - Thin slices of this wonderful fish were paired with more frise. Another winner.

French Frise - Cooked in very hot oil, these things come out brown and tasting a bit like potato chips. I like the ambivalence between the taste of potato chips and french fries.

Venison Chili - Probably the worst of the bunch. The chili had too much sweetness and vinegar for my tastes.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pho Danh Restaurant

Hong Kong City Mall

There are so many pho restaurants in this city, yet Pho Danh has prospered magnificently. Their secret? They have a clean restaurant.

The pho here is okay. Not good, not bad, but okay. The broth tastes clean, the noodles are a little clumped (like everyone else), and their bowls large. The beef broth tastes like it has a lot more pepper than other places, but nothing too distracting. Judy, my sister, enjoys their egg noodle that comes with the broth on the side.

I have no idea what to write about this place other than that it's a good easy place to meet someone for lunch and not be disappointed--or impressed for that matter.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe

9595 Six Pines Drive

Located in the Woodland's Square, just opposite from Jaspers is the tropical paradise of Tommy Bahama's Tropical Cafe. Just like last week, we had lunch outside in front of the square. The restaurant also has a garden room that looks almost like it's outside--so it's not a bad thing to have to sit inside on these beautiful spring days.

We started with the coconut shrimp. It's a little pricey, but pretty good--if a little bit sweet for shrimp. As Rekha said, they need to use regular coconut shavings, and not the sweet ones... I didn't know there was a difference.

I tried a pulled pork burger that comes buried under small tiny little fried onions. It's a bit too tangy for pulled pork, but I don't imagine there are that many good pulled pork spots in Houston (I really would like suggestions). I had the half rack of ribs (about $20). There are better ribs in the city, but there isn't a prettier view of the Woodlands while eating ribs.

Come enjoy the expensive food and the great atmosphere. If you spill a little sauce on your shirt, you can just turn the corner, go into the attached Tommy Bahamas clothing stor, and buy an expensive shirt.

Chacho's Mexican Restaurant

I'm not even going to put an address on this thing they call a restaurant. It's more of a way to get sick in the stomach for not a lot of money. There is a sign in the parking lot telling everyone not to play the music too loud. The sign hints at what this restaurant is designed for: giving party-going folks a quick caloric hit after a night on the town.

This is a fast-food restaurant that serves a mean margarita. Every table we saw had a margarita. We, unfortunately, came for the food. I ordered nachose, two different kinds of tacos, and some other greasy thing. It all tasted exactly the same. Meat drenched in lard and bad cheese.

If you're forced to go here, try the margarita, get some chips, and avoid the food.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Jasper's Restaurant

9595 Six Pines Road, Suite 900
The Woodlands, TX 77380

The restaurant bills itself as serving "gourmet backyard cuisine." The description is perfect. We only had brunch today, so I won't pretend to know if dinner is good, but the brunch is perfect, if a bit pricey.

I had Minnie's Fried Chicken. It's a thin crusted fried chicken placed on a bed o mashed potato. It comes with crispy perfectly cooked green beans, onion and garlic. Rekha had the excellent pancakes and my mother-in-law had the truffled omelette. Is there any combination more perfect than truffles and eggs? There aren't any truffles in it, but there is truffle oil.

The ambiance in the place is very chic. Dark woods, metal and mood lighting. For brunch it's a little much, so sit where we did--outside. The view of the Woodland's square is pretty wonderful when you're shaded by the big roof.

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