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Voice: Tastes Great, Less Filling

The food at Voice in the Hotel Icon is fabulous. Too bad the place is such a rip.

I have nothing against red wine with fish. A light-bodied Oregon Pinot noir and alder-plank barbecued salmon is a West Coast tradition. But red wine with fish is the interesting exception, not the rule. "Isn't tart white wine the classic recommendation with fish?" I asked.

"You could get a Chardonnay," he said. I wondered why he skipped over more interesting whites on his "by the glass" list, including an Australian Riesling, an Oregon Pinot Gris and a South African Sauvignon blanc. I asked the wine steward where he got his wine education. He said he had learned while drinking a lot of wine in Houston and New Orleans. In the end, we went with his suggestion of a glass of red Burgundy to go with the snapper. Sure, it sounded ludicrous, but what if he was right and I missed out on a great wine experience because I was too arrogant to try something new?

When the waiter went to pour our wine, he walked behind me. I turned around to see that the red wines available by the glass were sitting on a shelf. The Burgundy bottle didn't have much more than a glass left in it. It was warm and oxidized. It had obviously been sitting there for days. It tasted awful — with or without the red snapper. I instantly realized that the sommelier had been so adamant about recommending the Burgundy because he was trying to get rid of it.
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The Angus sliders will make your tablemates jealous.
Troy Fields
The Angus sliders will make your tablemates jealous.

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Hours:

7 a.m. to midnight Sundays;

7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays;

7 to 11 a.m. and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Saturdays.

Sushi nachos: $8

Pappardelle: $13

Steak sandwich: $14

Snapper: $22

Venison sous vide: $31

Hotel Icon, 220 Main, 832-667-4470.

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I returned to Voice on two other occasions. One day at lunch, I sampled an adequate steak sandwich. The bread and dressing were much better than the steak, which was so thin I could barely taste it. I also tried an excellent bowl of hand-cut pappardelle pasta with tomato, basil and trumpet mushrooms. The pasta was perfectly cooked and loaded with meaty mushrooms. It was by far the best thing I sampled on Voice's lunch menu and the most satisfying as well.

The last time I visited Voice I planned to sample the bar snacks. But since I knew they weren't going to fill us up, I suggested to my friend that we stop by Stanton's convenience store on Houston Avenue first. Stanton's sells one of the best bacon cheeseburgers in the city for $4. We had the kitchen cut it in half and we split it. If you eat before you go, Voice is a lot easier to enjoy.

I was tempted to take Stanton's burger with us and eat it at the bar at Voice. When I stay in a hotel, I always buy my food and drinks elsewhere and take them up to my room. I can't bring myself to pay the inflated prices for room service. As I ate my burger, I realized that eating at Voice is like ordering room service in the lobby of the Hotel Icon.

Chef Michael Kramer, a highly decorated California culinary genius, is turning out some stellar food at Voice. It's too bad the management finds a way to make each meal feel like a ripoff. If you are staying at the hotel or meeting someone who is, there's the convenience factor to consider. But if you're not, it's hard to put up with the ungracious attitude — no matter how good the food is.

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