By Brooke Viggiano
By Minh T Truong
By Molly Dunn
By Joanna O'Leary
By Francisco Montes
By Molly Dunn
By Molly Dunn
By Katharine Shilcutt
The turbot was an excellent example of food that's better off cooked in a less aggressively modern way. As a result of the cooking process, the fish became a veritable brick, all but destroying the delicate cauliflower soufflé upon which it was placed. The Berkshire pork, too, was cooked this way, although with a lighter hand: It remained juicy, and the fresh flavor of the high-quality pork shone through, although the dish was still somewhat bland overall. The standout of the evening was the vibrant, rustic tart with sumptuous diced bacon over wilted bitter greens, a solitary poached quail egg perched on top.
Because of the fact that I'd had so much food by this point in the meal — Textile doesn't skimp on portion size — I wasn't able to finish the large piece of pork tenderloin, and left a scant bite on my plate. As the busboy cleared our plates away, the sommelier caught sight of the morsel I'd left behind. He whispered curtly to the busboy to clear that piece of food off the plate before he took it back into the kitchen so that Chef Tycer wouldn't see it. This eavesdropped conversation only served to underscore the nerves that everyone seemed to be feeling that evening.
611 W. 22nd St.
Houston, TX 77008
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Five-course degustation menu: $85
Seven-course menu prestige: $115
Steak tartare: $17
Terrine of foie gras: $21
Mushroom tart: $22
Chocolate torchon: $10
Pound cake with blue cheese ice cream: $10
The desserts elevated the meal once more, however. Mark my words that young pastry chef Plinio Sandalio is one to keep a close eye on. His desserts, on both visits, were something imagined from a Lewis Carroll book: mathematically precise and measured in their execution, but extraordinarily fanciful. The liquid pumpkin pie with decadently rich brown butter ice cream, the magnificent sweet potato beignets with their whimsical bacon ice cream (not your standard candied bacon, but rich, meaty bacon pureed into ice cream), the unexpected pound cake with sweet apple jam and pungent blue cheese ice cream: All were impetuous yet calculated, and uncommonly delicious. The trip to Textile is worth it simply for the desserts alone.
Another reason to make the trip could be solely for the libations. The small bar is well-stocked, and the bartender, Anthony, is eager to surprise guests with Prohibition Era cocktails he thinks will suit their fancy. On one night, I had a sweetly invigorating concoction of Meyer lemon juice, gin and honey, while on the next visit I had a spicy and deeply satisfying whiskey cocktail with ginger and honey syrup. Even their mocktails are good: A fizzy limeade with hibiscus flowers is perfect if you've been handed the keys for the night.
But if you haven't, the wine list is nothing to cough at, either. The prices are amazingly affordable, with very little markup. It's also evident that the sommelier has tried every bottle on the list and is including only his favorites; nothing is on the list because it's trendy or expensive. It's both impressive and refreshing.
I'm left feeling disjointed about Textile and its seeming inconsistency, wondering if they were having an off night on Tuesday or a really great night on Saturday. But one thing remains clear throughout the confusion: When they're on their game, there is absolutely no other restaurant like this in Houston.
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