Onions are simple vegetables, but in the hands of Scott Tycer, the owner-chef of Aries (4315 Montrose, 713-526-4404), they are transformed into a complex dish. In fact, if Tycer's Three Onion Brioche Bread Pudding ($18) didn't start with yeasty challah bread soaked in the richest of chicken stocks, I would proudly proclaim it the best vegetarian dish I've ever eaten. The bread is encircled by a leek with one leaf flattened. Caramelized shallots and tiny pearl onions form part of an incredibly dense tomato-and-artichoke confit hidden beneath the bread. Parmesan cheese, melted on top of the bread, adds a sharp note and holds the whole thing together in a miraculous way. And slivers of fennel add the finishing touch.
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