The 9 Stupidest Things in the Houston Restaurant Scene Right Now

What bugs our food writers?

Too Many Tasting Menus

Is it just me, or is the overabundance and overpricing of tasting menus becoming obnoxious? Sure, I love having the opportunity to sample several dishes in small-plate form, but when the prices soar to nearly $50 or $60 a person, it's just ridiculous. Either lower the price, increase the size of the plates or leave the small plates to tapas restaurants. I'd like to feel I'm getting my money's worth, but a few tiny dishes that don't even make me completely full aren't worth it. MOLLY DUNN

"Margarita"-Flavored Baked Goods

As beautiful as it may look, it's food, not a painting.
As beautiful as it may look, it's food, not a painting.
Happy Hour at Cove Cold Bar
Minh T Truong
Happy Hour at Cove Cold Bar

Guess what? It may be five o'clock somewhere, but it's not at your bakery. Ever. So, cease and desist, please, with those "margarita"-flavored cupcakes, cookies, etc. A margarita is a frosty (note, not frosted) adult beverage I drink during Tex-Mex happy hours or sometimes at home listening to Jimmy Buffett by my lonesome. It is not a flour and water and sugar concoction that requires chewing and possibly a napkin. I gather this was your very flawed line of reasoning in creating this abomination: People like margaritas. People like cupcakes. People will like margarita cupcakes. Wrong. Well, maybe a few mouth-breathers will buy into this tomfoolery, but I promise you most everyone else will take your sheet cake with fluorescent "margarita" icing as an insult to baked goods as well as to cocktails. Leave the margaritas to the barmen and the cupcakes to the bakers. Some worlds shouldn't collide. JOANNA O'LEARY


Okay, so whipped cream and meringue are both types of foam. And I'm cool with those. It's the stupid parmesan foam and tomato foam and freaking bacon foam I can't tolerate. I blame Ferran Adrià, the Spanish chef behind the now-­defunct elBulli restaurant in Catalonia, for the foam craze. Even though elBulli closed in 2011, the foam thing is still going strong here in Houston and across the United States, and I just don't get it. Foam is glorified suds, people. And what's more, it doesn't even look appetizing! It generally looks like someone spit on your food. With foam in the picture, you have no way of knowing if your waiter hates you or if you're eating something expensive and innovative. Though my vote would be both. Let's all just make a deal right now to keep the foam on cappuccino, and only on cappuccino. You do that, and I'll save my rant about molecular gastronomy in general for another day. KAITLIN STEINBERG

Junk Food on Anything

If I wanted Flamin' Hot Cheetos on my sushi roll, I'd probably be pretty high, and I don't do that (hi, Dad). Rumor has it the orange puffs have even been seen dusted atop a Dr Pepper short rib-topped macaroni and cheese. No. Just no. I'm already eating enough crap to have to worry about Funyuns sneaking onto my bánh mì. Let's leave the stoner shit to Taco Bell, okay, Houston? BROOKE VIGGIANO

Brew Blog

Saint Arnold Expands Distribution to Colorado & Florida
The Houston brewery still thrives in Texas.

Molly Dunn

Saint Arnold is heading east and west. The local craft beer brewery will begin offering several of its beers in Colorado and Florida at the start of the fall season. While the dates are not set in stone, Marketing Director Lennie Ambrose and marketing team member Jeremy "Jerm" Johnson said a few of the Saint Arnold beers, including the Pumpkinator, will be available to Colorado and Florida residents in September.

Saint Arnold beer will be sold alongside Colorado Front Range and in the northern region of Florida.

Ambrose explains that Saint Arnold has become a familiar name in the Colorado market, especially after winning a total of 16 medals at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, including in 2010, when the brewery was awarded the gold medal in the German-Style Kolsch category for Lawnmower as well as the silver medal in the Scottish-Style Ale category for Oktoberfest.

But that wasn't enough to get them in the Colorado and Florida markets. Ambrose explains that an employee rep who helped them launch in Louisiana in 2010 moved to Colorado, and the brewery decided to have her help them distribute there.

"She was moving to Colorado, and it was thrown up there as a joke at first," Ambrose says. "Then we started talking about it; maybe she could do another one."

Now Saint Arnold Brewery is getting ready to sell some of its most popular brands in Colorado and northern Florida. Lawnmower, Santo, Elissa, Pumpkinator and Christmas Ale will all be distributed in those two states in coming months.

"Elissa wasn't one we thought we could go with," Ambrose says. "But the distributor said a lot of people would be drawn to it because it is more approachable than the Colorado IPAs."

Johnson says the brewery will use refrigerated trucks to keep the beer fresh and cold while it travels across the country. Saint Arnold doesn't put any preservatives in its products, so the beer being distributed to Colorado and Florida will need to be kept as fresh and cold as possible.

The craft beers will also be distributed in Colorado and Florida the way they are in Texas — through restaurants and bars. But the Houston-based brewery isn't looking to open any more facilities in those other states.

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Kaitlin, I'm a burger purist, too. But I've grown to love some of the designer burgers that are being created around town. Chefs like Ricky Craig (Hubcap Grill), Jay Stone (Wicked Whisk, now Vallone's), Jake Mazzu (Burger Guys) and Austin Simmons (Hubbell & Hudson) are creating some remarkably innovative burgers. All deliver a top-notch traditional burgers, but when they let their creativity run wild, the results can be spectacular. As an example, Chef Austin substitutes flash-fried pancetta for bacon, and generic lettuce gets replaced with lemon-infused arugula. The beef swagger is still leading the band, but these new backup players combine for a burger that both unique and superb. Check 'em out before you dismiss them.