If I were to die tomorrow and I knowingly had my last dinner tonight, I would drive around Houston seeing friends and dining on dishes that made my culinary mind expand.
Likewise, my alum Christine Ha wrote perfectly about convict’s last meals, and I have to say, if it’s a night where I’m going to go on a crime spree, this would be my favorite bites to power me up for what will undoubtedly be…my last evening out in a while!
Starting with a bang, my Amuse Bouche would be from the now-famous Pass & Provision ) : their take on “Ham and Eggs” makes your mind explode. Stomach implode. And Pray that there’s more! It’s fried pork skin served with a crème fraiche and delicately spiced caviar service that makes one’s culinary palette lift to new heights.
As if that wasn’t enough, let’s just get thick as thieves and have our appetizer at the South American-tinged Costa Brava. Their sweet specked Foie Gras starter makes you love this rich offal that much more. It’s thick cut, and buttery with a tinge of spice, you stop and wonder for a moment if something that sinful and simple……is allowed to be called fine cuisine. But the layers, and the tastes, it’s art.
I’m a sucker for a bread basket. Bistro Provence’s trademark harp shaped bread is what I want on my plate. Chewy, soft, buttery without butter (but come on, we’re buttering!!) it compliments any meal. It’s truly unique to every other bread I’ve had out there and belongs dipped casually into lunch soup as much as it stands pat next to a fancy duck breast.
Ma?! Do I really gotta eat salad? Totally! Somewhat a traditionalist, the “Sliceberg Wedge Salad” at the Tasting Room’s CityCentre location is my go to greens for my last night out. Their dressing isn’t the classic blue, but a spicy cilantro ranch that doesn’t overtake the iceberg, and the copious addition of tomatoes, scallions and bacon, make the dish flavorful and filling.
If it were to rain for the rest of my life, this soup, is it. Etoile’s lobster bisque is ethereal. Light and creamy, while maintaining that wonderfully French “I’m eating something totally bad for me, but it’s so totally good for my soul!” feeling, this soup does that. No overwhelming pieces, definitely no shells and so velvety smooth that you wonder if the spoon is too sharp for your mouth. Delicate spice and the lobster flavor just seeps into your skin. Gorgeous.
Main: I wouldn’t just give the main dish away to just anyone. But I had to give it to a place that for me, was not only one of the first in my fine-dining career, but has been since. Consistency is key for winning me over, and service is second, so I had to choose Backstreet Cafe’s lamb chop as my entrée. This place makes you feel special every time while continually turning out great food all.the.time. and Lamb. Omalord the lamb.
There are few green side dishes that make me wanna scream “uh. Uh. Nana nana.”. This would be one of them. While I had the dish at brunch, given the excellent willingness to please, I’m sure they’d whip this up any time – what am I talking about already? It’s Tony Mandola’s Gorgonzola creamed spinach. The bite of blue cheese against the bitter spinach enrobed in their cream sauce, one has died and gone to heaven – and forgotten they were eating their veggies.
And what better to cut the cream than a little more starch? Right? Right. This is my dream, come along with me, I’m working out just so I can get the feeling that I was bad for writing this particular post! That said, Liberty Kitchen’s mac and cheese is to die for. The perfect balance of pasta to cheese, no separation at the table after sitting, the perfect little cast iron skillet serving vessel and guess what! No ADDITIONS! This is straight up mac and cheese like your grandma made, and it’s a must try.
Finally, I’m not much of a sweet tooth, but in my time I’ve had a few that absolutely knock me down with creativity. Not to be outdone, Sorrel Bistro’s Mango Cheesecake with Avocado Ice Cream takes desserts to a whole new level. Not sickeningly sweet, but perfectly balanced the rest of my meal, it was such a delight to have this unique and tasty dish. Sometimes too many layers are in a dessert, this one, perfection.
Finally, one last toast before I go to the great beyond, and that’s the Klein Constantia that they keep on hand at the Brasserie 19. It’s a sweet ending to an amazing evening, and that’s what this would have been. So sit back in your easy chair, pat your extremely full stomach and dream of what’s next.
In case you live or are visiting us in Houston, be sure to catch my short and to the point Restaurant Blog “And the Eat Goes On”