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Sweet 17

The Sam Houston Hotel unites shrimp curry, king salmon with Moroccan spices, and mac 'n' cheese

My companion's prix fixe appetizer is a hearts of palm salad. The second course is halibut with fingerling potatoes and artichokes. Both are excellent. The salad's fresh, full leaves of butter lettuce tossed with mustard-shallot vinaigrette intertwine with thin slivers of Pecorino cheese that mellow the mustard's tartness. The hearts of palm are cut at a bias and stand one inch tall, surrounding the plate like tasty guard posts. The halibut is seared long enough on one side to develop an intense, flaky brown crust, and its potatoes, artichokes and capers in brown butter are a splendid pairing.

The calamari is a holdover from the Sheely days and one of his signature dishes. The squid is tossed in graham cracker crumbs and lightly coated in sweet chile sauce out of the fryer. It's worth a try if you're more accustomed to Red Lobster's version of the fried sea inkers. Its accompanying lemon-coriander aioli will make you wonder how chefs got away with serving this dish with marinara for so long.

For an entrée, I order the pressed Cuban pork sandwich, which, it turns out, is just a plain ol' ham and cheese sandwich that's been grilled on both sides. The bread is crunchy, the pickles and Dijon inside keep it moist, and it is quite good. But you can get the same sandwich at Central Market for half the price.

The filet mignon (picture with the tuna tartare) shows 
what a knack chef Armstrong has for slow-braising 
meats.
Troy Fields
The filet mignon (picture with the tuna tartare) shows what a knack chef Armstrong has for slow-braising meats.

Location Info

Map

*17

1117 Prairie
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

*17

1117 Prairie
Houston, TX 77002

Category: Restaurant > New American

Region: Downtown/ Midtown

Details

Grilled quail: $12
Tuna tartare: $12
Lump crab salad: $14
Foie gras: $17
Lamb osso buco: $23
Filet mignon: $30
Calamari: $9
Cuban pork sandwich: $11
Prix fixe lunch: $17
1117 Prairie, 832-200-8888. Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

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Still, quibbles about 17 are hard to come by. To bring such wildly different flavors together in peace is quite a feat. Armstrong is one of Houston's most exciting new chefs, and certainly its best new diplomat.

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