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  1. Deb and I visited Feast last night, a Thursday evening. Considering the buzz, I thought it seemed easy to get reservations. We arrived at 6:45. Other than the staff, we were the only people in the restaurant. The appetizers were amazing. Snails on Toast were outstanding. The snails had perfect texture (chewy but nut rtubbery), and just the rights amount of garlic and butter. Duck Liver Pate was excellent. The portion was huge. A few more pieces of toast would have been nice. Unfortunately, the appetizers were the highlight of the evening. As a main course, we shared the Beef Osso Bucco. The shank was bland, overcooked (but juicy), and not tender. Very disappointing. To finish off, we had the cheese plate. My wife referred to is as "pedestrian". Three small pieces of uninteresting gruyere, a soft goat and something yellow. Prices are reasonable, especially for the style and quality of food. The atmosphere is very comfortable. Other than the jackhammer across the street (which is not the restaurant's fault), you feel like you are in a countryside bistro. I feel a little pretentious with this final nit. Considering we were the only customers that night and put our wine selection in the hands of the chef, it would have been nice for James or his wife to visit our table. I don't know if our experience with Feast will be like Shade or Da Marco's (restaurants we were unimpressed with upon our first visit, but grew to enjoy) or like Aries (never understood the critical acclaim, the first visit was middling, each subsequent visit more disappointing). I hope it is the former. Houston deserves a high quality, reasonably priced, daring restuarant.
  2. LDLee


    Does anyone have a reliable source for barley couscous in the US? I love the stuff but can't find it anywhere. Thanks.
  3. My wife and I visited L’Espalier for dinner Saturday night. We chose the Chef’s Tasting Journey with matching wine. The first five courses were excellent – the food was fantastic, the wine pairings decent but not great, the service attentive without being overbearing. Highlights included the Salmon Napoleon pre-appetizer, the seared foie gras with cocoa (wow!), and the meat sampler (roasted lamb chop, and veal kidney with a slice of truffle). The wine pairings were a little weak. The Sylvaner with the seafood course was good, but clashed with the pineapple in the lobster. The Greek Muscat with the foie gras was excellent, not too sweet, providing just the right amount of counterbalance to the foie gras. With the meat dish was served a Pinot Noir that was too musky to match well with the grilled foods. During the fifth course, my wife and I were thinking definitely one of the five best meals we had ever had. Then, disaster. Service completely disappeared. After finishing the meat course, we waited for over 15 minutes with empty plates, empty water glasses, and half full wine glasses. Staff would attend the table to the right of us and to the left of us, but not touch our table. Finally, someone cleared off our table and the cheese course arrived. L’Espalier is supposed to have an amazing selection of cheeses. This time was not one of them. Of the six selected, five were bland and boring, the Vacheron was the sole exception. And, when we had finished our course, we waited another 15 minutes with empty plates, water glasses and wine glasses. The table next to us was served their entrée and waited forks in hand for 10 minutes before being served their wine. It had gotten so bad that my wife tried to get the waiters’ attention to no avail. When the first desert course arrived, I gave the waiter my credit card and asked for our bill. She said there was one more course. Once again, we waited for 15 minutes with empty plates and water glasses. There weren’t any empty wine glasses because they did not serve any wine. At the end of the second desert course, the waiter brought me my credit card and receipt to sign and asked how our meal was. I told her the meal started out well but ended disappointingly. She walked away to serve someone else. The manager came by to retrieve the signed credit card receipt and asked how our meal was. I told him about our experience. He asked to make some amends, left with our bill, and returned reducing the bill by 20%. My wife I kept explaining it was not about the price or the money, it was about the experience. Maybe they got it at the end, because as we were leaving several staff came by to genuinely apologize. The most difficult part of this experience was telling my wife’s sister’s brother-in-law about our meal. He had previously worked at L’Espalier and had called them to ask them to treat us well. He called after the meal and asked how it had been. He was crestfallen as I described our experience. The experience reminds me of a baseball game, where you watch a future Hall of Fame pitcher pitch a brilliant two-hitter for 6 innings, then the wheels fall off and he gives up 7 runs, including a Grand Slam. You just don’t understand how one can go from great to bad so quickly. Will we go back? I doubt it. We don’t live in Boston, and there are so many great restaurants to try (Maybe No. 9 Park). Will we tell others not to go? No, I believe and hope Saturday night was unique. Chef McClelland deserves better.
  4. (The following will be very stream-of-consciousness) Thanks for all the responses. Three votes for Lopez. It must be pretty good. Unfortunately, getting my wife to go out to Highway 6 for Mexican food may be near impossible. I am more of the cheesy (as a compliment) 60s Tex-Mex person. I have Robb's Tex-Mex book and his barbecue book. You should try the grilled cabbage. Is the place at 20th, Main, Studemont and Cavalcade called Franco's? (I am surprised there isn't an easy name for this location, like 5-points). It seems like that center is a kiss of death for restaurants. This morning, I drove by a place on N. Main called Rico's that had a big crowd at it. Have you been? Some friends have suggested Tony's on Ella. I hate to admit it, but I like the breakfast quesadilla at Chacho's. The tamales at Texas Tamale Factory are handmade and pretty good (Monterrey style). My wife's sister makes us bring a dozen every time we visit. Personally, I prefer the pork. JScarbor (I couldn't remember if your first name was John), it's been a while since I have eaten Mexican food in Austin other than Chuy's. Not my choice, just where my wife's family always pick. I have heard some good things about Juan in a Million. I miss Las Manitas and Jaime's. Elie, while out with some friends last night, I asked about Hugo's. Pretty much a consensus that it wasn't that good. Overpriced, undersized portions, boring food and an incompetent waitstaff. We are still trying to figure out the attraction. Another place that people praise I don't understand is Irma's. Then again, nobody has suggested Irma's yet, so I must not be that far off. Jay, are y'all still going to Oaxaca for Dia de los Muertos? You should come by for one of our house concerts. Barbara and Mike McGinity came to the last one. Lindsey Lee
  5. I am starting this as new post so not to distract from the original topic. Elie, my wife and I must be the only people in Houston who do not like Hugo's. I am trying to understand what there is to like about it. We used to go to Tila's but the quality has declined recently. The focus of my comment about Mexican restaurants was Tex-Mex. I have not found anything here comparable to the food I found in Austin or San Antonio. The usual suspects (Lupe Tortilla's, Spanish Flower, Andy's, Cafe Adobe, Pappasitos, Cadillac Bar, Doneraki, Molina's, Guadalajara) are that, suspect. It seems odd to me to eat at Chuy's when the good ones are in Austin. I have not been to Pico's or the Ninfa's on Navigation (the only good Ninfa's in my opinion) in a long time. Terlingua had to be one of the worst Tex-Mex restaurants I have ever been to. Even the drivel I had in Washington, D.C. was better. We live in the Heights and, other than Houston Tamale Factory for breakfast tacos, I have yet to find a decent Tex-Mex restaurant in the area. How sad is it we go to Berryhill when we need a fix. So help me, where can I go for a good Tex-Mex fix? I want flavorful cheese enchilada's with melted (not oozy cheese), crispy chips and picante sauce with a kick, outstanding tamales (not cardboard wrapped around dried meat by-product) and a tart margarita that doesn't taste like watered down sour mix. Is that too much to ask for without having to drive 150 miles.
  6. Just a minor quibble. This is the second time Himalaya is refered to as Indian. It is not, it's Pakistani and while excellent, they have no buffet. For a good Indian Buffet my top pick goes to Mayuri in the plaze on Fountainview and Westheimer. I meant Khyber, and I have corrected in my post. I will have to grab a group of friends to try Mayuri.
  7. I work in Greenway Plaza area and am confused where you are. 610 is 3 miles from Greenway Plaza. Other restaurants to consider: Cova Wine & Tapas Bar -- Good selection of wines by the glass and excellent food. Max’s Wine Dive –- Developed by the owner of the Tasting Room, supposed to be an upscale hole-in-the-wall. Allison Cook loves this place. The wine is reasonably priced and the food is okay. The oyster nachos are outstanding. Catalan Food and Wine -- Right now, my favorite restaurant in Houston. Every time I have been there the food has been amazing. Tony’s -- I have only been here for lunch a couple of times and have enjoyed my meals each time. It is definitely an expense account dining experience. The Breakfast Klub -- Best breakfast in town. Have the wings and waffles. T’Afia -- Monica Pope is a talented chef. Focuses on foods grown in the region. Yia Yia Mary’s -- I am not a Greek food fan. My friends like this place a lot. If I want Gyro’s, I go to Niko Niko’s. Dolce Vita Enoteca Pizzeria – Some people like this place, others think it is over rated. With good weather, it is a nice to place to hang out on the patio and have pizza. Another place for hanging on a patio, eating Italian food and drinking wine would be Grappino di Nino Other Comments Houston is not the place for barbecue. Personally, I don’t like Goode Company. Of the places near Greenway, I prefer Luling City Market (Yes, I am a heretic). Many excellent places for hamburgers. Consider Lankford Grocery & Market, Christian’s Tailgate Grill & Bar or Bubba’s Texas Burger Shack. I think Mexican food here is marginal. The best places are little taqueria’s that are hard to find and harder to convince people to go to. I would trust Jay Francis on this topic. In addition to Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen, I have heard good things about Teotihuacan and Otilia’s. To those not from here, it will seem strange to hear that Asian food is where the city shines. Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Indian, Pakistani – you name it we have it and it is good. Skip Vietopia (near Greenway) and go to the little Asia area in midtown or go to the Asian area near Bellaire and the Beltway. Egulletteers can give you some excellent suggestions if it interests you. For Indian, I prefer the lunch buffet at Khyber (coorected 2/21/07) over Bombay Brasserie. Mark’s and Da Marco are both excellent restaurants. If you go to Da Marco, make sure they don’t put you at the table near the front door or near the door to the side room. Noë is another excellent expense account restaurant. For casual semi-high end, try either Shade or Ouisie’s Table. I like the Glass Wall. It is less than 5 blocks from my house. Be warned, it is LOUD.
  8. Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe, 1616 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX, is locally owned and very good. Acadian Bakers, 604 W Alabama St, prepared the groom's cake for my wedding over 14 years ago, and people are still raving. Service here is either excellent or atrocious. I know you didn't ask for it, but for pies Flying Saucer Pie Company at 436 W Crosstimbers St are amaizing.
  9. Tuesday night, saw the Houston episode of The Hungry Detective. The producer must have drawn a vertical line through downtown, picked locations west of the line and did not want to stray too far outside the Loop. Kudos for featuring Mai's instead of the usual Vietnamese suspect, Kim Son. Also visited three other good choices -- Bubba's Texas Burger Shack, The Breakfast Klub and Tony Mandola's Gulf Coast Kitchen. To me, Goode Company Barbecue was the one uncreative selection. Overall, good selection of reasonably priced restaurants highlighting the diversity of cuisine. One question, how can you visit Houston without eating Mexican?
  10. We went with a group of 6 a week ago (Saturday, November 18). My wife and I ordered the Robiolla with pancetta and leeks, but didn't like it. The pancetta was a little gamey (I know that sounds weird). Probably a case of different tatses for different people. And the pizza was sliced. Everyone else really enjoyed their orders. The samples I tried were very good. One person ordered the fish plate and siad it was divine (her words, not mine). The one glitch in the night was wine. I ordered a barbera off the wine list. 5 minutes later, the waiter returned to say they did not have it. I then ordered a Super Tuscan. 5 minutes later, the wine steward comes by tells me they don't have the bottle I ordered and gives me a different wine list. Apparently, I was ordering off a two month old wine list. We poured our wine at the same time the pizza arrived.
  11. Because the reservations had already been made and We had already left for Seattle before people started directing us not to go.
  12. What a wonderful city. My wife and I had a great time in Seattle. We really liked the city’s atmosphere. There is a little slacker town element (kind of like Austin), which is not a bad thing -- my wife is from Austin and I went to college there. The restaurants were amazing. What surprised me was the number of residents who did not think so, mainly because they were trying to compare Seattle to San Francisco. As a middle market city, the proportion of interesting restaurants to population is fantastic. As previously posted, we had reservations at four restaurants -- Wild Ginger, Union, Chez Shea, and The Herbfarm. The following are some brief comments. Wild Ginger: The satays we ate as appetizers were mediocre, at best. However, I loved our entrees – Barbecued Shrimp and Mongolian Noodles. The wine guy did an excellent job of matching wines with the food. People we talked to said the restaurant was better when it was in its original, smaller location. Union: Amazing food. Interesting, nontraditional wine and food pairings. However, this trend of creating menus with vegetables no one has ever heard of is getting old. Chez Shea: Enjoyable meal. The tasting menu was excellent, although way too much food. Crab tart, Squash bisque and Rack of lamb were our favorites. The foie gras was slightly underseared. One question – How is Chez Shea the “most romantic restaurant in Seattle”? A view of the roof of the Pike’s Market is not that appetizing. The Herbfarm: Yes, a little pretentious and old school. The space is very foofy. But the meal was excellent, and the service impeccable. It was a great way to end a day of visiting the Woodinville wine country. As previous posters have said, good place to go once. Wine Country notes Columbia was interesting and the people were nice. Chateu Ste. Michele., the grounds are beuatiful, the people clueless. Don't do the tour. Bruce at Columbia recommended a visit to Brian Carter. He was right. Loved their wines. Staff were knowledgeable. Ken at Brian Carter recommended Matthews Cellars. Another excellnet choice. We also visited Facelli, probably the best value, and Woodhouse, okay, not great. I want to put a plug in for our favorite place, Purple Café and Wine Bar (the Seattle location). We stopped by after Wild Ginger for a nightcap. So many wine choices, so little time. The cheese selections were very broad. We liked it so much, we returned on Friday and Saturday. Saturday afternoon, we dropped by for a late lunch. We had gone to Mt. Rainier for the day. We ordered five cheeses with matching wine. We assumed the servings would be small since the price was $3 per serving. Boy, were we wrong. All the cheeses were fantastic. Our two favorites were the Drunken Goat and the Bermuda Triangle. They did an excellent job of matching wines with each cheese. Any way, thank you for all your help. We definitely want to come back.
  13. Good eye. John Marion is a Carraba, one of the many cousins who owns a restaurant. Personally, Piatto's is probably my favorite of the Italian restaurants operated by a Carraba/Mandola/Lorenzo family member. My only complaint is it gets loud some times.
  14. Thaks for all the help. Here is our schedule: Thursday - Wild Ginger Friday - Union Saturday - Chez Shea Sunday - Herbfarm Will definitely focus on light lunches during the day and working out extra hard, when we get back. Lindsey
  15. My wife has a small herb garden in our back yard. Rosemary, several different thymes and basis, lemongrass. She loves to cook and has told me we have to go. Since the Herbfarm is in the Woodinville area, is it reasonable to visit the wineries during the day before dinner that night? If so, any suggestions of places to visit? Thanks for y'all's prompt responses.
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